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Federal Government Shutdown & the Low Power FM Radio Filing Window

government shutdownTuesday October 1st began the Federal government’s fiscal year.  Unfortunately due to our elected leader’s inability to put differences aside and fund the government for the next period, they have instead shutdown the government. It is not known at this time if the shutdown will last a few days or a few weeks.  In 1995 the fed was shut down for 21 days.

The shutdown affects all “nonessential” government services.  While this effects many aspects of the government, one in particular that effects LPFM radio directly is the Federal Communications Commission.  This is the first shutdown since the Commission has been using the Consolidated Database System (CDBS).  So the affects of the government shutdown have come with a great surprise to those interested in filing and even the engineering and consulting firms working on client’s application.  The CDBS along with several other critical services needed to prepare an application have been disabled!  We assumed these systems would continue to operate consider the fact the Shutdown procedures leaves 15 IT personnel on site at the Commission.   I guess they are twiddling their thumbs since there is no longer any functioning services or website at the time of this writing.   The only services authorized at the FCC at the moment are those that involve safety of life. “FCC activities other than those immediately necessary for the protection of life or property will cease.”

UPDATE! 10/8/2013

LPFMStore & Nexus – LPFM Radio Work Continues, Despite Government Shutdown

The LPFMStore.com and Nexus Broadcast, LLC continue to operate and prepare LPFM applications with proprietary software.  Nexus has re-tooled and is no longer dependent on operational government services.  We are now preparing LPFM applications at full tilt and expect to be back on schedule by the end of the week. These new tools have increased our productivity.  As a result we now have several additional application spots available in our que.  We do not know at this time if  the filing window for Low Power FM Radio will be delayed, extended or postponed.  

Read the full update here.

The FCC has furloughed some 1700 employees, sending them home until the conclusion of the shutdown.  Additionally free services such as Recnet and RFree are crippled due to the disabling of all FCC and FAA services.  Critical services such as the FCC’s towair service which is used to check the glide slope of airports near the proposed transmitter site – disabled.  The ASRN service used to search for available rental towers has also been disabled.

Federal Government Shutdown to Delay LPFM Radio Filing Window?

Clearly this makes it impossible for anyone to properly prepare an LPFM radio application.  The Commission cannot reasonably expect the public to prepare, coordinate, secure and file a complete application within the two week period beginning October 15th, should the shutdown end in a week or two.  The Commission shut down today without a word about how an extended shutdown would affect the scheduled window dates.  Though unreasonable, we must continue to expect that the window will open as scheduled.  We are hoping they will do the right thing and delay the window a few weeks to allow the public to finalize engineering, tower agreements, etc prior to filing an application.  Without the delay, the quality of the apps received will be poor and will not properly and fairly serve the public interest.

Some may claim that LPFM applications have had months to prepare.  However, that is not entirely true.  For instance, unclear information regarding second adjacent waivers needed to be clarified and digested.  Existing translator applications from 2003 needed to be dealt with first to determine LPFM frequency availability in a given area, especially those in highly congested areas.  Many were just now getting through the process and submitting data into form 318 in the CDBS.   

I am sure the FCC is aware of this and will do the correct thing to serve their commission, to serve the public interest.  However, we will be standing by and will file a petition to extend the filing window if necessary.  We don’t feel that will be necessary however as the FCC has put a huge amount of work and support into this LPFM filing window. 
We will update you here as the situation in Washington evolves where it will affect the LPFM window.