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The government shutdown’s impact on licensed and pirate broadcasters

We’re nearly a full work-week into the government shutdown, and there have been many questions about what the effect will be on radio braodcasters. I covered this topic in this past week’s Radio Survivor Bulletin email newsletter. What follows is an updated version of that piece. To make sure you receive exclusive news and content from Radio Survivor, sign up for the Bulletin now. It’s free and we’ll never share or sell your information.

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In another post I have an update about how LPFM advocacy and support groups are working to deal with the shutdown and making plans to make sure the application window happens swiftly and smoothly when the FCC is back at work.

LPFM applicants hoping to start filling out their forms online this week will certainly be delayed, since the FCC took its website offline, including all online records and submissions. Understand that organizations are not required to fill out LPFM applications in advance; it’s just a convenience.However, while the application is offline, you can still check out Matthew’s screen shot tour to help plan your answers in advance.

Broadcasters should know that all relevant broadcast laws and rules remain in effect during the shutdown. While a complaint can’t be filed during the shutdown, as Matthew explained on Tuesday, a complaint regarding an indecent broadcast or other infraction during the shutdown may still be submitted later, and the FCC can then act on that complaint.

Now, unlicensed broadcasters may actually be the only ones with a tiny bit of advantage during the shutdown. Of course the practice is still prohibited, but there won’t be any FCC agents available to track down and locate unlicensed broadcasters. Like indecency complaints, an unhappy listener can still submit a complaint about an unlicensed transmission once the shutdown ends. But if that broadcast has ended, then there wouldn’t be anything for the Commission to find. It’s only a small window of potential opportunity.

Of course, we must note that we are not lawyers and this is not legal advice. We do not recommend starting a pirate broadcast during the shutdown, we’re only considering the shutdown’s implications. Caveat emptor, and may the shutdown be short.


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  1. Groups making post-shutdown plans for LPFM support | Radio Survivor - October 6, 2013

    […] ← The government shutdown’s impact on licensed and pirate broadcasters Is Terrestrial Radio Dead to Undergraduates? WVKC Changes Spark Debate → […]

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