American Cable Association urges FCC to require satellite to pay reg fees
Michelle Clancy | 12 July 2014
The American Cable Association has urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to extend its decision regarding IPTV providers’ regulatory fees to the satellite arena.

In 2013 the US regulator mandated satellite giants DirecTV and DISH Network to pay per-subscriber regulatory fees equal to the level paid by the vast majority of cable operators, saying such a move would inject ever greater fairness into the system for funding the agency's annual budget.

"The current fee assessment system is irrational and unfair, and the agency needs to amend its fee assessment process to eliminate burdens on smaller operators that serve smaller and rural markets and compete head-to-head with DirecTV and DISH, two of the largest multichannel video programming distributors in the country, with about 34 million customers combined," said ACA president and CEO Matthew Polka.

ACA set forth its views in comments filed with the FCC on 7 July in response to an agency notice with regard to funding its $339 million budget -- nearly all of which is derived from fees assessed on cable operators, broadcasters, telephone companies and other regulated entities pursuant to Section 9 of the Communications Act.

In the current fiscal year, cable operators will pay $1 per subscriber. The FCC estimates that if the DBS giants contributed on a per-subscriber basis, the cable fee would plunge to about $0.68 per-subscriber.

Last year, the FCC agreed that IPTV providers should contribute on a per-subscriber basis, and placed cable and IPTV providers in the same fee category. The move prompted cable operators' per-subscriber fee amount to drop from $1.02 to $1.

"The fact that DBS providers pay no regulatory fees to cover media bureau activities governing their provision of MVPD services, their primary economic activity, is contrary to Section 9 of the Act, which requires that the benefits provided by the bureau's activities be taken into account in the FCC's fee assessments,” Polka added. “The FCC's fee reforms should recognise and correct this fundamental problem,"