6 Ways the Government Shutdown Affects Hollywood


We’re now in day three of the government shutdown after the new fiscal year began without an agreement on continuing resolution, leading to a suspension of large portions of the government at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. But some onlookers have explained that while the situation in Washington sounds dire, it’s not actually of much concern to the average American — it is, however, a reflection of bad politics that has further eroded the American public’s confidence in Capital Hill.

That isn’t to say the shutdown doesn’t have a far-reaching impact on various government agencies. On Tuesday, Wall St. Cheat Sheet outlined five government agencies hit the hardest from the shutdown — and from there, the impact of the shutdown travels down the line to indirect targets.

Take the entertainment industry as an example. Variety reports that due to the shutdown, productions across the country might find themselves in increasingly difficult situations ranging from delayed rulings on contentious issues to the inability to secure shooting locations. Here are six ways the government shutdown is affecting the entertainment sector.

1. FCC Operations Have Been Closed Down

Suspension of FCC operations represents the most significant impact of the government shutdown when it comes to the entertainment sector. Nearly all operations of the FCC have been closed including: regulatory oversight, licensing services, spectrum management, consumer complaint and inquiry phone lines, and local competition enforcement.

All pending mergers and transactions requiring FCC approval are put on hold due to the government shutdown, including Sinclair Broadcast Group’s plans to buy seven Allbritton Communications stations and the plans for Tribune Co. to buy 17 stations from Local TV Holdings.

Also of note is the FCC’s work to orchestrate an “incentive auction” of broadcast spectrum — a subject that remains the source of intense debate between stations and federal regulators.

According to the FCC, only 38 employees out of 1,754 will remain on staff during the shutdown, and only those necessary for emergency services or the protection of life and property. Additionally, chairwoman Mignon Clyburn, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner Ajit Pai, and three other members of staff will remain on the job because their compensation comes from the FCC’s annual appropriation.

2. FCC Nomination Put in Limbo

The mass shutdown of the FCC also makes it unclear as to how the agency will move forward with the scheduled Senate Commerce Committee vote on Thursday. Michael P. O’Rielly is set to rceive the nomination to fill a vacancy on the FCC.

3. National Park Service Locations Have Been Rendered Unusable 

A spokeswoman for the MPAA told Variety that the government shutdown could have varying affects on productions around the country. The issuance of film permits by the National Park Service for shooting on park property is set be halted eliminating a large chunk of locations that are often used for filming for movies, television, commercials, and more.

FilmLA, the permit agency for Los Angeles County, said that among the LA federal properties off limit to filming during the shutdown include the Los Angeles River, the Angeles National Forest, the VA Medical Center, and the Sepulveda Dam.

4. Visa Processing Could Affect International Productions

The delay of visa processing, an area set to affect many people and not only the entertainment sector, could put additional pressure on international productions where talent — actors, directors, etc. — might be coming from countries outside the U.S. However, Variety reports that many passport offices remain open though long delays are to be expected.

5. National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities Can’t Help Starving Artists

The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities have been shutdown in a situation that poses problems for arts organizations and creative individuals seeking grants.

6. The National Association of Theater Owners Meeting on Capital Hill Will Have to Wait

The National Association of Theater Owners had scheduled Tuesday as a day for theater owners to lobby lawmakers about a variety of issues. A Spokesman for the organization told Variety that while some meetings were still taking place, most had been cancelled.

An important topic that had been scheduled to be discussed included the healthcare reform act — specifically, the provision that sets the threshold for full-time hours at 30 hours per week rather than 40 hours per week — with the government assessing penalties if full-time workers are not offered healthcare coverage.

Don’t Miss: Gallup: Federal Employment Increased on Eve of Shutdown.