ACA says satellite, cable providers should pay equal regulatory fees

The American Cable Association is calling on the FCC to make satellite providers like Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) and DirecTV pay the same amount in regulatory fees as other MVPDs.

According to the ACA, cable and IPTV operators currently are required to pay the FCC $1 per subscriber for the current fiscal year, while Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) providers only pay about 24 cents per subscriber.

"There is absolutely no basis for keeping the proposed DBS fee levels over 75 percent below those proposed for other entities in the Cable/IPTV category. DBS providers should be paying the same Media Bureau regulatory fee," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said in a statement, adding that for fiscal 2016 the FCC expects cable and IPTV providers to chip in $64.1 million in fees, while DBS providers are expected to kick in $9.1 million.

Given that DirecTV, now owned by AT&T (NYSE: T), is the U.S.'s largest MVPD and Dish is the fourth largest, the ACA said the disparity is particularly unfair.

ACA's solution to this, should the FCC decide not to assess the same fees for all MVPDs in 2016, is to double the amount DBS providers currently pay and then bring DBS providers into full parity with other MVPDs by 2017.

The ACA said DBS providers have had enough time to adjust to the increased rates in order to avoid "rate shock" for their subscribers.

But Dish has balked, saying that the FCC's planned DBS regulatory fee rate hike planned for this year exactly represents rate shock and accusing the FCC of abandoning a phased approach to increasing regulatory fees.

Last year, the FCC decided to start charging DBS providers a per-subscriber fees similar to other MVPDs. Previously, DBS providers paid regulatory fees based on a per-satellite-license basis.

For more:
- see this ACA press release
- see this Multichannel News story

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