Dish, DirecTV will have to start paying higher fees to the FCC

DirecTV rooftop satellite dish
Dish Network and DirecTV are seeing their FCC regulatory fees rise again. (DirecTV)

The FCC has released its regulatory fee schedule for fiscal 2018, and Dish Network and DirecTV are going to have to foot a bigger part of the pay TV provider bill.

The FCC intends to collect more than $322 million and, as Multichannel News noted, cable, satellite and broadcast licensees have to kick in $113.22 million, more than one third of the total.

In 2015, the FCC began phasing in the new Media Bureau-based regulatory fee for DBS, starting at 12 cents per subscriber per year. The FCC subsequently upped those fees to 27 cents and then 38 cents in the following years. This year, the regulatory fees for DBS providers will jump to 48 cents per subscriber per year, and leave other MVPDs with a regulatory fee of 77 cents per subscriber per year.

Both Dish and AT&T-owned DirecTV have pushed back against the fee increases. The two companies claimed that raising fees could result in “rate shock” for subscribers. They also argued that the FCC shouldn’t be able to jack up regulatory fees without adding more full-time employees to handle DBS matters.

The Commission said that regulatory fees are not based on a particular number of employees handling DBS concerns, and that the Media Bureau already employs a significant staff to deal with general MVPD issues.

RELATED: FCC more than doubles fees it charges DirecTV and Dish

Representatives from DirecTV and Dish met with the FCC earlier this month to argue against raising the DBS per subscriber rate by 25% while simultaneously lowering the per subscriber rate paid by cable operators by almost 20%. The companies argued that previous regulatory proceedings, cited by the FCC as cause for increasing DBS fees, have not increased the Media Bureau’s workload. The companies also said that recent media modernization efforts by the FCC benefited (or will benefit) cable operators but not DBS providers.

“As a consequence, the Commission has promulgated dozens of cable rules that have never had any applicability to DBS providers. The cable trade associations that argue for regulatory fee parity ignore this important distinction between these different classes of multichannel video programming distributors. They also ignore the fact that among MVPDs, DBS providers alone pay other regulatory fees. Consequently, any march toward parity, which we strongly oppose, must factor in DBS providers’ other regulatory fee payments,” the companies wrote in a filing (PDF).

In all, cable TV systems, IPTV providers and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) operators are on the hook for $62,330,000 in regulatory fees this year.