FCC stops charging fees to tiny cable operators, proposes that Dish and DirecTV start paying up

Tiny cable operators are, understandably, praising the FCC's decision to exempt them from regulatory fees while simultaneously proposing that satellite operators Dish (NASDAQ: DISH) and DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV) be subject to per-sub charges.

"ACA is pleased that the FCC has raised its de minimis threshold for paying regulatory fees from $10 to $500 to provide more relief to smaller entities," said the American Cable Association, which counts a number of very small cable operators as members. "ACA has more than 100 members that serve fewer than 500 subscribers. Based on this year's cable regulatory fee rate of $0.99 per subscriber, many of these small operators likely will be relieved from regulatory costs that can be reinvested in their networks and used to keep rates down for consumers when their fee obligation is calculated next year."

In adopting several rule changes for how it collects fees from pay-TV operators that were originally proposed in June, the Federal Communications Commission also proposed subjecting DBS operators Dish and DirecTV to the same per-subscriber fees cable companies pay.

"DBS providers are similar to cable operators and IPTV providers because DBS providers offer multi-channel video programming to end-users," the FCC notes. "Despite this similarity, DBS providers do not pay the per-subscriber regulatory fee assessed on cable operators and IPTV providers based on Media Bureau FTE regulation."

The ACA, which has been pushing for satellite carriers to pay their "fair share," was also pleased with this outcome.

"We are extremely pleased that the FCC--after many years of encouragement by independent cable operators--is proposing to require Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) providers to pay regulatory fees to cover some of the Media Bureau's costs to oversee the video services of DirecTV and Dish Network," the ACA statement adds. "If implemented, the change would create greater regulatory fee parity and end the practice of requiring cable operators to shoulder nearly the entire burden of Media Bureau oversight of the multichannel video programming distributor community."

For more:
- read this ACA statement
- read this Multichannel News story

Related links:
ACA urges FCC to make DirecTV and Dish pay regulatory fees
Senate Republicans plug 'Local Choice' alternative to retransmission consent
Senators push for pay TV retransmission reform; broadcasters push back

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