Anyone who does business with the FCC had better watch out. Most of the agency’s operations will be put on hold Tuesday unless lawmakers can agree on a spending bill for the fiscal year that begins October 1. A deal looks unlikely after the Senate passed a continuing resolution today that stripped out provisions in the House version that seek to defund the Affordable Care Act (a/k/a Obamacare). House Speaker John Boehner says he won’t accept the Senate’s bill. An impasse would force the government to shut non-essential services, and that would hit the media industry hardest at the FCC. The agency said today that 98% of its 1,754 employees would be furloughed. Depending on how long things drag out, the agency might have to postpone the October 15-29 window for those who want to apply for low power FM radio licenses. Work would also stop to approve TV station deals including Gannett’s $1.5B acquisition of Belo and Tribune’s $2.7B purchase of Local TV.
Aside from the FCC impact, media companies — like everyone else — will have to worry about how a shutdown might affect the economy. “Past shutdowns have disrupted the economy, and this shutdown would as well,” President Obama said today. “It would throw a wrench into the gears of our economy at a time when those gears have gained some traction.” The benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 0.4% on Friday while media stocks were mixed with the Dow Jones U.S. Media Index up 0.5%.