As Washington reacts to the coronavirus, there are certainly regulatory implications to broadcasters and other media companies. The FCC Thursday announced that its headquarters is closed to visitors and that its employees should begin to telework. Many FCC employees regularly took advantage of telework options before the current situation, so it can be expected that many routine application processing activities (particularly those involving electronically filed applications) should be able to proceed with relatively minimal delays. What remains to be seen is the ability of the FCC to handle more complex matters that often involve meetings with stakeholders and among FCC staff before decisions are made. While these too can be handled electronically and telephonically, the speed of FCC actions may well be slower than normal as technological issues are worked out and as the FCC may be called on to address telecommunications matters related to combatting the virus.
The FCC’s Audio Division, on Friday, released a Public Notice describing some special processes it will use in light of the teleworking policy. First, college and university stations can rely on the FCC rules that exempt these stations from the FCC’s minimum operating schedule during recess periods without the need for a special temporary authority. The current college shutdowns will be treated as recess periods.