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As Shutdown Looms, FCC’s Plan Is Revealed

Some employees would be retained to handle communications emergencies, but 98% would be furloughed

As a possible government shutdown becomes closer to reality, we have learned more about how it would affect the FCC and broadcasters.

Based on past shutdowns, typical broadcast transactional functions, like licensing and the approval of station sales, would stop as most of the agency’s employees would be told to stay home and not conduct government business.

A handful of commission employees would remain on call, ready to act should there be an emergency. For example, if a hurricane hit the East Coast, commission employees would still help radio or television stations obtain STAs to remain on the air should their tower and/or power be impacted by a storm.

Based on its “Plan for an Orderly Shutdown” now posted on its website, the FCC believes its employees would come into work for four hours on Tuesday to close out the agency’s business once a shutdown is declared. Suspended activities would include a myriad of things, including spectrum management and routine equipment authorizations.

Of the approximately 1,754 FCC employees, about 38 total would be retained for a variety of functions. Six would be retained, such as the current three commissioners and acting chair, because their compensation is financed by a resource other than annual appropriations.

Up to 16 employees would be retained to handle emergencies, including staffing the FCC operations Center. Up to 8 employees would be retained to conduct interference detection, mitigation and disaster response operations.

A handful of employees would be onboard for security, IT and other essential functions.

All in all, some 38, or 2% of the FCC’s employees would be retained and 98% would be furloughed and sent home. If a government shutdown is declared, FCC employees would cancel travel plans and commission events. They would secure their work area and lock up their files, set their phones to voicemail and set up “out-of-office” messages on their email and go home.