American IPTV providers will need to pay the same regulatory fees as cable companies from 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) confirmed this week.
The FCC said it had been persuaded by the argument that digital television delivered via high-speed internet should pay fees, in an attempt to create a level playing field between operators.
“By assessing regulatory fees on cable television systems, but not on IPTV, we may place cable providers at a competitive disadvantage,” the FCC said. IPTV providers should be subject to the same regulatory fees as cable providers because, among other things, IPTV providers benefited from regulation by the Media Bureau.
Matthew M. Polka, president and CEO of the American Cable Association – which represents 850 small-to-medium cable operators – welcomed the move. “ACA applauds the FCC for deciding to collect regulatory fees on providers of internet protocol television (IPTV) in the same manner as cable operators must pay them,” he said. “Including IPTV service providers in the fee base will avoid distortions in the marketplace that can occur when some similarly situated competitors must pay regulatory fees while others can avoid them.”
The FCC said it had decided not to charge fees to satellite providers at this time, though the ACA said the FCC should start charging those operators fees as well. “Doing so would result in regulatory parity and take into account the sizeable burden that DBS providers place on Media Bureau staff resources.”
“Major reform of the FCC’s regulatory fee program is long overdue, and won’t be complete until DBS pays its fair share for the work of the Media Bureau,” Mr Polka added.
The FCC added IPTV as a special category alongside cable in its 2013 fee schedule, released this week.