While the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has funding available to remain open and pay staff through Jan. 2, 2019, if a partial government shutdown remains in effect past that date, key open proceedings will be put on hold.
Notably, the agency will be forced to pause the "shot clock" on its review of the proposed merger between T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp., the third- and fourth-largest U.S. wireless carriers. The commission is currently on day 77 of its 180-day informal timeline to review the deal.
The FCC previously paused the clock on its review of the deal in September, after T-Mobile submitted information on network engineering models and new economic modeling. The review resumed Dec. 4. The agency pauses its review of a deal when companies submit new application-supporting materials to allow its staff and third parties time to review the new information and receive public feedback.
The FCC would also be compelled to pause comment periods for proposed rules in the event that the shutdown remains in effect past Jan. 2. One proceeding that would be impacted is the FCC's review of broadcast ownership rules. The review kicked off on Dec. 12, after commissioners adopted a notice of proposed rulemaking to begin the agency's congressionally mandated quadrennial review of some media ownership rules.
Rules up for consideration and public comment include a review of a rule that limits one single entity from owning multiple television stations in the same market, in most instances. Another rule limits the number of radio stations an entity can own in a market, and a third rule up for review prohibits a merger between any of the four largest broadcast networks.