Senate Commerce Report: Shutdown Has Had "Significant Impact'

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) released a report Friday detailing the impact of the government shutdown on a host of agencies under its purview, but the FCC and National Telecommunications & Information Administration, which oversees government spectrum as the FCC does commercial, were not among the case studies outlined.

The report was issued in advance of a hearing Friday (Oct. 11) in the committee on the economic impacts of the shutdown.

The report does include the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Federal Aviation Administration, and Federal Trade Commission, among many others.

Of the absence of the FCC, a committee spokesman said: “The staff report is not meant to be comprehensive but rather a snapshot of impacts of the shutdown. The hearing will take a deeper look at how the shutdown is impacting consumers, businesses and the economy. One can expect that the FCC and NTIA will be discussed during the hearing.”

Certainly consumer groups and others have complained that the inaccessibility of the FCC site is a hardship on consumers and the government shutdown is affecting merger reviews, equipment approvals and license actions and could affect the timing of spectrum auctions, which will help pay for the interoperable emergency broadband communications network Chairman Rockefeller has made a priority.

Of the Federal Trade Commission's shutdown, the study said that with 925 of its 1,178 staffers furloughed in Washington and seven regional offices, the commission has stopped all consumer protection activity with the exception of ongoing cases with pending court dates.

That means no more processing claims against alleged unfair or deceptive practices or taking new action against the perpetrators of fraud, the report points out, as well as consumer awareness outreach. Also inaccessible is a database to help state and local law enforcement track down fraudulent actors.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.