The government shutdown could prevent some companies from advertising at the Super Bowl

A demonstrator holds a sign that reads 'Don't Wall Feds Out' during a protest against the government shutdown in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019.
Scott Eisen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Companies spend millions of dollars on ads at the Super Bowl, in the hope that the event's vast audience will buy their new products and services.

But the U.S. government shutdown may have an impact on product launches, because part of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) website is offline and companies therefore can't currently get new services approved and ready to advertise during the big game on February 3.

The FCC regulates the TV and telecommunications industries and on January 3 posted on its website: "Due to the partial government shutdown, the FCC suspended most operations at midday Thursday 3 Jan, 2019."

This means that new smartphone, tablets and other devices such as Wi-Fi routers aren't getting sign-off, according to a report on legal news website Law360.

Marc S. Martin, a partner at Perkins Coie LLP, told Law360: "Because the FCC isn't around to do that last step, the issuance of new equipment will be delayed." Therefore, those products won't be able to be advertised. "Let's say you have a first-quarter launch plan and you wanted to advertise. You wouldn't be able to run an ad during the Super Bowl," he said.

Super Bowl advertisers spent upwards of $5 million for a 30-second advertising slot in 2018, according to Kantar Media North America CEO Manish Bhatia. Last year's advertisers included Verizon, T-Mobile, Netflix and Sprint.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel expressed frustration about the shutdown on Twitter on January 8: "Go ahead, take a look at the back of the nearest electronic device. You'll see an @fcc number. The agency certifies every innovative mobile phone, television, and computer that emits radio frequency before they can head to market. Guess what is not happening during the shutdown?"


Monday marks day 24 in the partial federal shutdown, which became the longest closure in U.S. history on Saturday. Around 800,000 federal workers did not receive pay on Friday, although the House and Senate voted to give workers back pay when the government reopens.

The partial shutdown started on December 22 with the U.S. government unable to decide on spending plans. President Donald Trump wants $5 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and on December 11 said he would be "proud" to shut down parts of government if it results in the border wall.

Other electronic systems that have been suspended include the FCC's consumer complaints center and its cellphone interference reporting system, according to an online statement dated January 2.

  • CNBC's Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report.