Pai: More Relaxed Ownership Rules Coming
LAS VEGAS — FCC Chairman Ajit Pai vowed further relaxation of the broadcast ownership rules as part of his push to strengthen broadcasting and preserve its special role a trusted source of local news and information.
Speaking to a friendly audience at the NAB Show here Tuesday, Pai said the ownership rules are being reviewed in a congressional mandated proceeding it launched last December.
“Rest assured, we will not be deterred by those whose regulatory views are not guided by facts and reasons, but instead were set in stone in the era of Laverne & Shirley, Starsky & Hutch and The Captain and Tennille.
Pai noted that the public comment period in the rulemaking runs through the end of May.
Pai made a case for dereg. Broadcasting stands out in an increasingly crowded media landscape, he said. “The trust that broadcasters have built over the years is real. And Americans’ personal connections with you are your greatest competitive edge.”
By contrast, most Americans remain dubious about social media, even though they count on it for much of their news diet.
Citing a 2018 Pew survey, he said two-thirds of Americans say they get their news from social media. “The only problem: they don’t trust it.”
Sixty percent said they see the platforms as “largely inaccurate.”
What’s more, he said, an NBC News-Wall Street Journal survey found that social media “do more to divide the country than unite it and spread falsehoods rather than news.”
Pai packed his speech with other stats in discussing the FCC’s role some other commission initiatives.
- His “modernization” initiative to repeal or reform outdated and burdensome rules has so far produce 14 rulings and 11 orders with more on the way. An order on relaxing the kidvid rules should be ripe for a final vote “in the coming months.”
- The post-incentive auction repack of the TV band is proceeding smoothly. More than 300 stations have transitioned off their pre-auction channels, including 130 that are now sharing channels and about 200 of 987 that have to move to new channels. By the end of this week — the end of the second phase of the FCC’s 10-phase repack plan — 350 stations will have found new homes.
- The FCC has reimbursed stations that have to move to new channels in the repack a total of $450 million of the $2.7 billion Congress set aside for that purpose and for consumer education. He noted that checks are not only going to full-power TV stations, but also to affected LPTV stations and FMs.
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