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Author Topic: FCC Eliminates Vanity Fee  (Read 6211 times)
WI8P
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« on: May 25, 2015, 06:39:20 AM »

http://www.arrl.org/news/view/fcc-eliminates-amateur-radio-vanity-call-sign-regulatory-fee

Also appears they are dropping the fees for GMRS:

http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2015/db0521/FCC-15-59A1.pdf
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SOFAR
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« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2015, 07:20:08 AM »

According to the FCC it's a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, also needs to be approved by Congress.
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K9YLI
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« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2015, 07:38:33 AM »

From other discussions.  It would have made sense  to  not charge for the application and then refund.
just  make the decisions,  then  charge the person getting the vanity call before it is officially  issued.   no refunds involved.

Think outside the box.

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K4FMH
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« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2015, 03:23:18 PM »

Are you sure the NPRM has to be formally approved by Congress....OR .... is it Congress that has already given an agency (FCC here) the legal authority to make rules according to the NPRM procedure?

"The FCC issues a legislative rule under authority given to it by Congress in statutes. The statutory delegation of authority can range from broad discretionary authority to a very specific mandate.  For example, Congress broadly requires the FCC to grant broadcast licenses in the public interest. In contrast, Congress specifically required that the FCC complete the switch from analog to digital television broadcasting by a certain date."
https://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/rulemaking-process-fcc

According to the FCC it's a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, also needs to be approved by Congress.
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K6CPO
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« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2015, 03:41:03 PM »


If I read everything correctly, they're only eliminating the regulatory portion of the GMRS fee.  That's only $25 of the total $90 GMRS license fee.  That's still pretty expensive for a service that is mostly used by unlicensed operators.
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W3HF
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« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2015, 03:52:08 PM »

Are you sure the NPRM has to be formally approved by Congress....OR .... is it Congress that has already given an agency (FCC here) the legal authority to make rules according to the NPRM procedure?

The FCC has, in the past, stated that the vanity fee was statutory, meaning that it was mandated by Congress (by "statute"). When others have submitted comments and suggestions to reduce or eliminate the fee, FCC has said that they didn't have the authority to do so, even using their NPRM procedures.

In this proceeding, they are stating that they now have the evidence to support a position that collecting the fee actually costs them more money than not collecting a fee. They appear to be stating that now that they have this evidence, they can assert to Congress the inefficiency of the fee and give notice to Congress that they are dropping the fee. There is a 90-day notification period for Congress to review their position and take action if they disagree. I can't tell if they have always had the authority to challenge the fee and just never had the evidence, or if this authority to challenge the fee is new.
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KC8WUC
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« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2015, 04:00:43 PM »

Congress does not have to vote or ratify NPRM's.  NPRM's only relate to enactment of rules or regulations, not laws.  Congress is the law making arm of the government.  Each agency has the authority to enact their own rules or regulations, however they must give notice to the public through a series of NPRM's and publication in the Federal Register. After a series of published notices the Commissioners will take a vote and sign the proposed rules and they become adopted after 90 days after the final rules are published.

73,

Michael KC8WUC/WDE9344
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W3HF
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« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2015, 07:09:26 PM »

Congress does not have to vote or ratify NPRM's.  NPRM's only relate to enactment of rules or regulations, not laws.  Congress is the law making arm of the government.  Each agency has the authority to enact their own rules or regulations, however they must give notice to the public through a series of NPRM's and publication in the Federal Register. After a series of published notices the Commissioners will take a vote and sign the proposed rules and they become adopted after 90 days after the final rules are published.

73,

Michael KC8WUC/WDE9344

That is true for rules and regulations, but not for statutory requirements. The FCC has repeatedly reaffirmed this in their actions, perhaps most recently in the R&O on WT Docket 09-209, in November 2010. That R&O, posted on the ARRL web site, states:

"38. ... Many commenters request that we eliminate the fee to renew a license with a vanity call sign.

39. ... Commenters made the same request when the vanity call sign system was implemented. As the Commission explained at that time, Section 9(g) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, requires that the Commission assess and collect a regulatory fee for a new or renewed vanity call sign.83 Therefore, under the Communications Act, we cannot provide a one-time fee for processing vanity call sign applications. Accordingly, we decline to amend the rules as requested."

Footnote 83 refers to 47 U.S.C. ยง 159(g), which is the United States Code, i.e., the laws as passed by Congress. This is distinct from 47 CFR, the Code of Federal Regulations, which are rules and regs as implemented by the various agencies.

In fact, the current Report and Order specifically states "The Commission is required by Congress to assess regulatory fees..." 

It's just that the FCC now has the evidence to prove that their costs for processing these vanity fees exceed the revenue received, so they are proposing eliminating vanity fees from the category of required regulatory fees. I think that in the past, they viewed the costs as being simply the costs of assigning vanity calls. Now they are including the costs of processing payments and issuing refunds to unsuccessful applicants. This has tipped the balance in the cost equation to where it costs more to charge and accept payments than they receive and get to keep. (I'm just glad they didn't simply add in these costs, redo the calculation, and raise the fee!)

I can't find it easily in the R&O itself, but the ARRL report on the subject states "The change will not go into effect, however, until required congressional notice has been given. This will take at least 90 days."
 
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KG6AF
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« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2015, 09:04:17 PM »

What I find confusing is this: the FCC is supposed to come up with an estimate of just how much it costs to process vanity calls, and assess a fee to cover those costs.  This estimate is supposed to be updated yearly, hence the annual adjustment of the fee that we see posted on eham.net and elsewhere.  So suppose it costs $5 to handle the actual paperwork (database entry, selection of the winner when a call is requested by multiple people, etc.) and $20 to handle the collection of fees and issuance of refunds.  You'd think the assessed fee would be therefore be $25.  Yes, it'd be true that the lion's share of the cost would be for collecting/refunding money, and that's no great deal for hams.  However, if a complete accounting of costs is made when assessing the fee, I don't see how the FCC could argue that they'd be saving money by doing away with that fee.

The only thing I can figure is that the FCC hasn't made a complete accounting of costs in the past, perhaps because the collection/refunding of money is the responsibility of some other department in the organization, or is counted as overhead.

I'm not objecting to removal of the fee; I'm just puzzling over what seems to be a poorly-worded math problem masquerading as an FCC announcement.
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KG6AF
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« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2015, 09:06:29 PM »

Oops, sorry, I missed W3HF's post, in which he said something similar.
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W3HF
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« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2015, 09:46:21 PM »

Vanity fees do not increase the FCC's budget, so FCC can't view this like a business would, where you raise the price and as long as your revenue exceeds your costs, you make money.

The money goes to the US Treasury. It ostensibly subsidizes the FCC's costs at the Federal budget level, but perhaps the issue here is that if FCC drops the fees, they don't actually lose any budget either. If they can reduce their workload without reducing their budget they have a net gain.
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K1CJS
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« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2015, 04:20:34 AM »


If I read everything correctly, they're only eliminating the regulatory portion of the GMRS fee.  That's only $25 of the total $90 GMRS license fee.  That's still pretty expensive for a service that is mostly used by unlicensed operators.

Suggest it be read a little deeper.  The proposed rule removes GMRS from the regulatory fee schedule.  That means the FCC will not be required to collect the fees--most likely meaning the whole fee will disappear.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2015, 08:56:33 PM by K1CJS » Logged
K3NRX
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« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2015, 08:21:40 AM »


So when I go to renew my call sign/license in 2024, it will be totally free???.....or is this just the initial fee when you first apply for a call sign???......and a renewal will still cost you???......am I missing something here???....

V
K3NRX

« Last Edit: June 04, 2015, 08:25:31 AM by K3NRX » Logged
SOFAR
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« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2015, 08:35:22 AM »

It's a proposal, still open for comment. The OP didn't read the entire thing either, only jumped the gun with the ' Its Free!' headline. .... Is this really going to have an impact on someone's finances? .... You might have better results if you stop paying for cable TV.
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