The government shutdown continues to create a confusing situation for government agencies faced with statutory obligations that are difficult to honor without a working federal bureaucracy. The FCC by law is required to hold a monthly public meeting but, when the bulk of its employees are furloughed, it is difficult to meaningfully adhere to that obligation. The FCC announced earlier this week that it would go ahead with its January 30 meeting but, if the lapse in appropriations continues through January 29, it will conduct that meeting by conference call, rather than live as is routine. If the shutdown resolves before January 29, a live meeting will be held. The meeting appears as if it will be relatively perfunctory, as it will consist of “announcements only.” The items that had been on the agenda released early this month to be discussed will in fact not be considered. For broadcasters, that means that the order abolishing the EEO Mid-Term Report (about which we wrote here) and the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on reforms to the process used to award construction permits to noncommercial broadcasters and LPFM applicants (which we wrote about here) will be addressed at some later meeting or by circulation among the Commissioners without a meeting. Keep watching to see what develops next, and see our article here about what is and is not working at the FCC for broadcasters.
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