ACA urges FCC to make DirecTV and Dish pay regulatory fees

Discussion in 'General Satellite Discussion' started by Athlon646464, Jul 10, 2014.

  1. satcrazy

    satcrazy Icon

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    Great...


    Hey D,

    I wouldn't say that too loud :nono2:
     
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  2. Athlon646464

    Athlon646464 Yada Yada Yada DBSTalk Gold Club

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    Update: FCC Proposes Per-Sub DBS Fee

    (broadcastingcable.com) - "In this Further Notice we propose to adopt a new fee category for DBS, based on the Media Bureau FTEs [full-time employees] which perform work related to these regulatees," the FCC said. "DBS providers are similar to cable operators and IPTV providers because DBS providers offer multi-channel video programming to end-users," the FCC points out. 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....

    Full Story Here

    [​IMG]
     
  3. wilsonc

    wilsonc Legend

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    Internet Service Charges are tax free under Federal Law. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Tax_Freedom_Act However, that law expires November 1st, 2014. They are looking at making that permanent as the House has passed a bill to make it permanent http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permanent_Internet_Tax_Freedom_Act_(H.R._3086;_113th_Congress) , however the Senate has not acted on it yet.
     
  4. Mikej0530

    Mikej0530 Cool Member

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    There is another example of the federal Goverment getting to big. Why can't they just leave us alone.
     
  5. Diana C

    Diana C Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

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    The fees in question are charges levied against a regulated industry to partially recover the cost of the agency's enforcement. IOW, the regulated firms pay the government to enforce the regulations. (It is based upon the number of hours employees spend on regulatory issues related to the industry.)

    The real point is that everyone already pays for this now...it is financed from the Federal Budget, so your taxes pay for it now. These fees would reduce the FCC's draw from the budget.

    So pay it one way or another...but sooner or later we all pay.
     
  6. nmetro

    nmetro Godfather

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    Another fee on top of other annoying day to fees that we see in every aspect of our lives. People want to pay the lowest price possible, so companies come up with various add on fees. It has gotten to the point to add 10% to 20% to any quoted price to cover all the various fees. be it flying, staying at a hotel, renting a car, using or accessing your bank account, going to the doctor, druggist and/or hospital, and yes, subscribing to a cable or satellite service.
     
  7. slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

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    This isn't a fee that Directv and Dish would be adding at their own discretion, it is a regulatory fee as Diana C said.

    Of course the decision to break it out separately on subscriber's bills is the providers', but it makes sense that they don't want to be at a competitive disadvantage if they advertise one price that covers everything, and their competition can advertise a lower price with the fine print listing fees that are added on.
     
  8. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    True... except in cases like this... if the FCC levies a fee against satellite companies, then they would pass that along to us in our bills... meanwhile we would not see a reduction in our taxes for the FCC no longer using that funding... so we would actually start paying twice for the same thing, essentially.
     
  9. slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

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    Considering that we've run a budget deficit every year since 2000, your taxes aren't paying for everything the government does anyway, a lot of it is being left to our children and grandchildren to pay. You not only aren't paying for anything twice, there are a lot of things you aren't even paying for once.

    If we ran balanced budgets, there would inevitably be other spending that increases to take up any "savings" from having this fee paid directly by satellite subscribers, so expecting that your taxes would decrease as a result is utterly ridiculous. Even if all other spending remained constant, do you really think Congress should waste their time passing a tax reduction of a tiny fraction of a percent to refund an average of a quarter or whatever on everyone's tax bill?
     
  10. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator

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    What is being proposed is a user fee ... a fee for using the services of the FCC. It makes sense to recoup at least a portion of the cost of operating the FCC from the companies using the FCC's services. The down side is that those companies get their money from us ... so subscribers end up paying for everything the companies get charged for doing at the FCC.

    Event based fees are fairly common ... file for a construction permit or license and one will need to include a payment to process the paperwork. This fee will help offset events that are not individually charged ... such as when DISH or DirecTV talk to the FCC staff or decision makers about an issue. Or when there is an open comment period where the public can participate.

    I'd rather not see a per event charge for talking to the FCC ... that would lead to the big companies with money being able to pay for more meetings than smaller companies. There is already enough of a problem with big companies being able to hire more or better people to lobby the FCC. Charging the public a fee for making comments on FCC proposals would reduce oddball responses to proposals ... but would lead to more of a "money speaks" environment.

    With other services already paying the FCC for regulatory oversight it seems "fair" that satellite pay as well. They are receiving a benefit from the FCC.
     
  11. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    You're arguing politics, which is not something we do here and isn't what I was talking about. It's a whole "nother" ball of wax to discuss wasteful spending or whatever else is wrong with our budget.

    I'm merely pointing the fallacy of selling this FCC fee as something they need because of work they are doing because they presumably are already getting paid to do that work through tax dollars... and even if the FCC had to give up that funding once they get the fee from providers, you and I wouldn't see a reduction in taxes.

    Whether or not the rest of the tax and budget system is broken is a discussion for another thread on another forum.
     
  12. hancox

    hancox Godfather

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    I'll pay the FCC a per-user fee for DBS when the FCC actually helps DBS even the playing field. So tired of non-equivalent rules for DBS vs cable and outdated market DMA concepts.
     
  13. Jaspear

    Jaspear Godfather

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    I'll (voluntarily) pay the FCC a per-user fee for DBS when the FCC makes those 'services' someone mentioned above optional. Right now, they're nothing more than what government does best: coercion.

    I couldn't help but notice that FierceCable.com accurately uses the the word "burdensome" to describe these fees. When they start making them optional, we'll actually find out which 'benefits' (as the ACA so helpfully calls them) really are benefits.

    In my opinion, everything the FCC has done since 1934, has been made up out thin air and whole cloth, including the original conceit that everything else has 'progressed' from: that the public owns the airwaves. Maybe it's time to reconsider the original premise the FCC was founded on, rather than arguing about another government version of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, in this case yet more fees.

    I do hope this wasn't politics I was arguing. ;)
     
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  14. Diana C

    Diana C Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

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    Look at it this way...if you were a cable TV subscriber instead of a satellite TV subscriber you would be paying the same taxes you are now, AND a portion of your monthly bill would be be going to the FCC while satellite subs escape that extra cost. Would you think that was fair? Historically, satellite operators only pay event based fees (application fees, for example). Once a satellite is in operation, FCC interaction is very low. That is not true for Dish and DirecTV...they have more frequent contact with the FCC over things like carriage disputes, retransmission fees, etc., just like a cable company.
     
  15. harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

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    Enforcement at the cable system level is surely more costly than at the DBS level. You don't see rigs running around testing for stray satellite signals or having to shut down a satellite for trampling your TV or radio reception.

    The other danger is that some fees that are claimed as FCC fees are not levied by the FCC but are instead allowed by the FCC for cost recovery. If they don't charge the DBS companies fees, they don't have a need for cost recovery.

    James mentions building permits and other events. DBS companies pay their fees for design review and changes to the RF landscape map as it is.

    The proposed fee is simply a device to level the playing field and the FCC needs to stay out of that business.
     
  16. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator

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    FCC enforcement is light and is paid for through "fines" (voluntary donations) when issues are found.


    The "cost" is the group of people employed by the FCC who have to deal with the paperwork created by DBS providers. The fees that cable and IPTV are paying help offset that cost. ACA would like DBS to pay a similar per subscriber fee for DBS company use of FCC resources.

    If the FCC stopped charging cable and IPTV the costs of operating the agency would still be there. There are regular costs that are not covered by application fees. When a satellite subscriber complains to the FCC about their service who pays for the staff member that handles that complaint? Cable subscribers? Taxpayers in general? Why not satellite subscribers?


    Think about it this way: If this was a fee accessed ONLY on satellite subscribers and not cable or IPTV subscribers which side would you be on? Leaving status quo where only one type of service is charged the fee or "leveling the playing field" where all types of services are charged the fee? If you would not like this fee if it only applied to satellite why do you support it only applying to cable/IPTV?

    I'd like to level the playing field and have no per subscriber fee, regardless of service type. But subscribers and their companies are using the FCC's services and that costs our government money. Allocating some of that cost directly to the companies and their subscribers seems fair - even if it is annoying to see the line item cost.
     
  17. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    Right... and that's why I would be on the side of "why are the cable companies paying these fees" rather than "why aren't the satellite companies paying too."

    I could get behind a position of removing the fee from cable more than I could a movement to add it to satellite "just to make it fair..."

    I see this a lot of random places in society... instead of seeing a weird thing and moving to eliminate it, we tend to try and impose the weird thing on everyone for "fairness" which is a strawman since the easier and fairer thing would be to get rid of the weird thing in the first place... not try and make everyone have to do the weird thing, right?
     
  18. Jaspear

    Jaspear Godfather

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    Right. Adding another tax or fee on the other guy is always the default position which guarantees a win for the entity doing the so called "play field leveling".
     
  19. jpl

    jpl Hall Of Fame

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    The thing is (and I know this is hair splitting) they aren't adding a new tax. They're taking the total cost burden and spreading it more equitably. Cable fees will go down as a result of this move. They're not trying to screw over DBS. One of the things the FCC has done right in recent years is to recognize the fact that DBS and cable (and IPTV too) really aren't in different industries anymore. There's been a concerted effort to merge those fields wherever practical. In some cases, you really can't do that (e.g. when the FCC first proposed having DBS follow the same rules for carriage of local channels as cable has). But in many cases, leveling the playing field is not only possible, it's the right thing to do. For example, one argument Comcast recently used in allowing for the encryption of local channels was simply 'DBS and IP don't have to keep locals unencrypted... why should we?' The FCC agreed with that argument. This is the same thing. The fact that all TV providers be treated equally when it comes to footing the regulatory bill isn't really that obnoxious of a notion. Many of the arguments against the move have been utter non-sequiters (this is a move by cable because they can't compete against DBS... it's frankly hard to make that argument when the regulatory cost for your company is higher than it is for your competition - there's nothing that cable could do to offset that cost, in other words). Also what James Long said about enforcement is absolutely correct. The FCC may spend more for enforcement against cable, but they also recoup most if not all that money through fines against those companies. Since cable is much more likely to infringe on those requirements, they're also far more likely to fund the FCC through those fines.

    Whether this cost should be in existence at all is a totally separate argument. I'm a low tax kind of guy. That being said, there are legitimate roles for government in this area. As such, it needs to be funded. But whether that funding is too high or too low is a separate discussion. If there is a call to eliminate the surcharge... I'm all ears. But as long as the fees have to be paid, then it only makes total sense that everyone in the industry pay the same. When DBS was new the argument could be made that it was a more experimental type of fringe player. But 20 years on? Please. DirecTV and Dish are two of the largest TV providers in the country (I think they're still #2 and #3, if I'm not mistaken). To believe that they should pay less in light of that than every other company - only one of which is larger - just makes no sense to me at all.
     
  20. jpl

    jpl Hall Of Fame

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    Oh, and one more point - lest anyone thinks that the FCC is in the back pocket of big cable and this move proves it! Consider this - many of the regulatory changes made recently by the FCC were made to break up some of the cable muscle that they've thrown around. The biggest, in my mind, is the all-but-elimination of the terrestrial loop-hole. If the FCC was a lap dog for big cable there is no way in hell that would have happened. Why DirecTV still hasn't taken advantage of that closing (to get, e.g., CSN Philly) is beyond me, but it is pretty much gone. That was a mother of a change that was a big smack at big cable. This latest move is just an extension of that - an attempt to get rid of the distinctions between the industries.
     

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