From our friends at the Kentucky Broadcasters Association and From Inside Radio
The 116th Congress was sworn-in Thursday and despite plans by House Democrats to pass legislation that would reopen most of the federal government, there’s little appetite in the White House or Senate to go along with the deal. Barring a last minute change, that means the Federal Communications Commission will close its doors at midday. The timing is intended to give FCC employees up to four hours to orderly close down agency operations.
The shutdown means much of the FCC’s electronic filing and database systems will be unavailable until normal agency operations resume. But in a sign government shutdowns are becoming routine in the modern political era, more FCC functions will stay operational than in the past. Late Wednesday the FCC said among those areas that will remain open for business are the Consolidated Database System (CDBS). That means station deal-making will face less of a disruption. Broadcasters and communications attorneys will still be able to access documents on the Electronic Document Management System (EDOCS). And, if needed, the Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) and the Public Safety Support Center will both be operational. The FCC also said its website will also remain accessible, unlike during previous shutdowns, although it won’t be updated with new information. If a station needs an emergency Special Temporary Authority (STA) however, that would still be processed through the 24-hour FCC Operations Center (202-418-1122).
The shutdown has also brought the extension of several normal filing deadlines for any documents that were to be turned in during the period the FCC is closed. Those submissions will now be due on the second day of normal operations, whatever date that is. And in order to avoid any confusion that could be created by its midday shutdown, it will consider today (Jan. 3) as the first day the FCC is closed.
Among the areas where operations will go dark are the Emergency Alert System Test Reporting System and the Consumer Complaint Data Center. “This unavailability of systems will impact the work of any entities requiring access to such systems and information,” the FCC warned.
The FCC expects roughly 1,442 employees will be on-board before the implementation of the plan. Among the handful of staffers that will remain on the job are the FCC chairman and the three commissioners. That’s because their compensation is financed by a resource other than annual appropriations.