Ion’s Burgess Lauds Pai For Ownership Relief

Ion Media CEO Brandon Burgess commended FCC Chairman Ajit Pai for restoring the UHF discount in calculating compliance with the 39% national ownership cap — a move that will allow Ion to be sold in toto even though its coverage (64.8%) far exceeds the nominal cap. “This action allows small entrepreneurial and consumer-oriented companies like Ion Media to continue to succeed in a consolidating media world,” he said in an open letter.

Ajit Pai Moves To Roll Back Telecom Rules

The FCC chairman, who has been unwinding Obama-era regulatory efforts, is putting two items up for vote on Thursday that would empower telecom companies and broadcasters.

Pelosi, Pallone: Don’t Restore UHF Discount

The two House Democrats tell FCC Chairman Pai that restoring the UHF discount would further concentrate station ownership. They also say take a shot at Sinclair Broadcast Group.

NAB Reiterates Repack Concerns To Pai

In a meeting on Tuesday with the chairman, the association is worried about the 39-month deadline to move to new channel assignments as well as “the potentially significant impact the repack will have on non-repacked broadcasters.”

Pai Lays Out Plan To Roll Back Net Neutrality

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has briefed telecom trade associations on his plans to scale back net neutrality rules. Pai’s plans will apparently maintain the basic concept of net neutrality, but will move the enforcement of the rules back to the Federal Trade Commission, rather than the FCC.

Pai To Boost Priority Of Economic Analysis

The FCC chairman proposes creating an Office of Economics and Data “to restore the tradition of staff economists spending time thinking about the future and publishing in the present influential white papers that keep us from being stuck in the past. We need bright people who can focus on big-picture, out-of-the-box thinking.”

President Trump’s Tech Agenda Is Winning

Major pieces of President Donald Trump’s deregulation agenda have been held up, but for technology and communications policy, his approach is making big inroads. The rapid upheaval may be due to Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s long familiarity with the agency, where he has been a commissioner for five years, as well as the strong backing by the industry’s biggest players.

Pai Buries Hatchet With Indie Cable Operators

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called cable operators’ mission to build digital infrastructure “the challenge of our time” in a keynote appearance on Thursday’s closing day of the American Cable Association’s annual summit in Washington. “We don’t view you as an enemy,” Pai declared, “but rather someone we can work with to better enable our citizens to take advantage of digital opportunity.”

FCC To Restore U Discount, Up Cap To 78%

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says he wants to restore the national ownership cap’s UHF discount at the FCC’s April 20 meeting and he has the votes to do it. After that, he says in a blog post, “we’ll launch a comprehensive review of the national ownership cap … later this year.” Effect of restoring the discount would be to double the current limit to 78% of TV homes.

Pai Set To Relax National TV Ownership Cap

The Wall Street Journal reports that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will today announce plans to loosen the national cap on TV station ownership at an FCC meeting in late April by restoring the UHF discount. The cap now limits stations to a reach of no more than 39% of TV homes. Restoration of the discount, which would allow groups like CBS and Sinclair to exceed 65%, is expected to touch off another round of station consolidation. Journal subscribers can read the full story here.

Pai Deals Another Blow To Affordable Internet

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai put more pressure on the Lifeline affordable internet program today, announcing that he would allow states decide which companies are certified to participate. The announcement comes after Pai’s decision earlier this year to cut nine providers from the Lifeline program, which elicited criticism from groups that supported the measures.

COMMENTARY BY MIKE CAVENDER

FCC’s Pai Remains Mum On Fake News

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Thursday sidestepped questions from reporters about the Commission’s position on so-called “fake news.” Calling it a “political debate,” Pai said, “I will not wade into that. I will be focused on the core values of the First Amendment and protecting them.”

COMMENTARY BY MICHAEL O'RIELLY

O’Rielly Applauds New Openness At FCC

Commissioner Michael O’Rielly: “One of Chairman Pai’s most welcomed, yet least noted, process reforms has been his unequivocal direction that staff should be completely up front with all commissioners, not just the chairman. Add this one to the list of reforms for which Chairman Pai should be congratulated. It is also one that needs to be memorialized in a complete update of the commission’s internal rulebook so the next commission follows the same improvements.”

Telecom Policy Tilts To Industry Under Pai

Hard-fought protections on privacy and competition at the FCC put in place before President Donald Trump took office, had upset the phone and cable industries. The new regime at the agency under Ajit Pai says consumers win if businesses face less regulation and have more incentives to invest. But consumer advocates worry these changes give broadband providers that own media businesses more power to favor their own services, among other things.

Pai: FCC Ownership Rules ‘Quite Antiquated’

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said that the agency is studying restrictions on media ownership, characterizing a number of the rules as “quite antiquated.” In an interview Monday with Variety, Pai said that an easing of such restrictions “is one of the issues that is under consideration. We haven’t made any firm determinations there, either.”

Pai-Trump Meeting Target Of FOIA request

Citing the Freedom of Information Act, the Electronic Privacy Information Center is asking for details on the March 6 meeting between FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and President Trump. A quick response is merited, it says.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai On Tap For NAB Show

The new chairman is expected to discuss his new direction for FCC as well as regulatory priorities.

 

JESSELL AT LARGE (LAGNIAPPE)

Is TV News ‘The Enemy?’ Don’t Ask FCC’s Pai

At a Senate hearing, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai had an opportunity to repudiate Trump’s assertion that CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC are “the enemy of the American people” and, by doing so, declare the FCC’s independence from White House. He didn’t take it, choosing instead to retreat behind a First Amendment platitude.

JESSELL AT LARGE

Sinclair, Nexstar Show How Big Can Be Better

Evidence is emerging that if station groups are allowed to scale up, they will become better broadcasters, pumping still more news and entertainment into the expanding TV ecosphere to the benefit of all —  viewers and advertisers. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is expected to move to loosen the ownership caps this year. Those opposed had better bring more to the debate than just theories about the inherent badness of bigness.

Pai Declines To Discuss Trump Meetings

On the Hill this morning at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing, the FCC chairman told lawmakers they would have to ask the White House if they wanted to know what was said at his two meetings with President Trump. However, he said he has had no contact with any administration official about companies with business before the FCC and he pledged to maintain the independence of the agency. Pai also side-stepped comment on Trump’s assertions that CNN and Big Three networks’ news divisions were the “enemy of the America public.” Pai and the other two commissioners discussed the post-auction repack of the TV band, suggesting they would oppose forcing stations off the air for failing to meet the deadline for moving to new channels.

Pai Tells Senate Commerce 3.0 Is A Priority

Appearing today before the Senate Commerce Committee, the FCC chairman spells out his agenda, with the next-gen standard high on his list. He says its ability to leverage the power of the internet “promises to dramatically transform broadcasting.”

Trump Renominates Pai As FCC Chairman

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai was renominated by President Donald Trump, according to a person familiar with the matter. A Republican lawyer, Pai has served on the commission since 2012 and been its chairman since January. He would need to leave at the end of this year unless confirmed for another term. His nomination was sent Tuesday to the Senate, a day after Pai met with Trump in the White House.

Trump Meets With FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai met with President Donald Trump at a closed session at the White House on Monday, six weeks after Trump elevated him to lead the agency. “Chairman Pai had a warm meeting with President Trump this afternoon, in which they reconnected for the first time since Chairman Pai was elevated to head the FCC. No proceedings pending at the FCC were discussed,” said FCC spokesman Neil Grace.

Trump To Meet With FCC Chairman Pai

President Donald Trump will meet with FCC chairman Ajit Pai at 3 p.m. this afternoon in the Oval Office, according to the White House. There are no details on what will be discussed.

FCC’s Pai To Appear Before Congress

The new chairman of the FCC is heading to Capitol Hill for the first time since taking over the agency. Republican Chairman Ajit Pai will testify on Tuesday morning before the Senate Commerce Committee, joined by FCC Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Michael O’Reilly. While GOP lawmakers are likely to praise Pai, Democrats will look to put the FCC’s new boss on the hot seat.

Pai Argues Against Net Neutrality

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai railed against net neutrality on Tuesday, saying that the 2015 rules are “outdated” and are stifling the internet economy. “The FCC decided to apply last-century, utility-style regulation to today’s broadband networks,” Pai said during a speech at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

FCC’s Pai: Live TV Must Be Kept ‘Clean’

A handful of artists and celebrities have taken to live TV to use obscene language and put networks at risk of violating FCC decency rules. Chairman Ajit Pai on Thursday told Fox Business Network “If we are presented with some complaints, we are duty-bound to enforce the law. And the law that is on the books today requires broadcast TV to keep it clean, so to speak. And so we take that obligation seriously.”

COMMENTARY BY ALISON NEPLOKH

Innovative Process For Innovative Proceeding

NAB VP of Spectrum Policy Alison Neplokh: “Next Generation TV is all about finding new and innovative ways for broadcasters to reach the public. That’s why we think it’s very fitting that one of the proceedings FCC Chairman Ajit Pai picked to pilot the FCC’s innovative approach to transparency is a proposal to move forward with Next Generation TV.”

New Chairman Quickly Shakes Up The FCC

Ajit Pai, the new Republican chairman of the FCC, is rapidly making his mark on the agency, overhauling its operations and rolling back Obama-era initiatives. His moves have drawn Republican praise but alarmed Democrats and consumer groups and set the stage for the fights ahead.

COMMENTARY BY ADONIS HOFFMAN

The FCC’s War On Broadcast Is Over

Adonis Hoffman: “For most of his tenure, former FCC chief Tom Wheeler was at war with the broadcast industry. New chairman, Ajit Pai, is rolling out the red carpet for broadcasters, throwing his weight behind ATSC 3.0, a cutting-edge technology that is expected to give life and value to broadcast spectrum.”

Pai Revamps FCC Fine Process

The new FCC chairman says any consent decree settling a notice of apparent liability or forfeiture order must now be approved by a vote of the full commission. 

 

Pai Sets More FCC Process Reforms

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who has initiated several changes to how the commission conducts its business, today announced two more.

Pai Sets Record Straight On Digital Divide

The new FCC chairman said that one of his top priorities is to close the digital divide — the gap between “those who can use cutting-edge communications services and those who do not. On the FCC Blog he reiterates and explains his commitment. “Now that I’m at the helm of the agency, I’m determined to address it.”

Pai FCC Moves To Rescind Wheeler Actions

Contributing to the speed with which a new agenda is being implemented at the FCC is the simple fact that Commissioner Ajit Pai, with his lengthy tenure at the FCC and knowledge of the issues currently pending before the agency, arrives at the chairmanship uniquely prepared to move quickly on the tasks ahead. The pace of the transition has therefore been nearly without precedent, opening up a rare opportunity for Chairman Pai.

FCC Revokes JSA ‘Midnight Regulation’

Chairman Pai says the Media Bureau is immediately ending the heightened scrutiny of joint sales and shared services agreements. 

 

JESSELL AT LARGE

Brass Tacks Time On TV Ownership Dereg

With deregulation in vogue again, new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is poised to revamp the commission’s ownership rules. My suggestion is he should adopt the NAB’s proposal to allow common ownership of multiple stations in all markets, but only two Big Four network affiliates. If he can, he should also set a new, higher coverage cap that makes no distinction between V’s and U’s after a lot of input on what that cap should be.

FCC Sets Broadband Deployment Committee

The committee will focus on developing specific recommendations on how the FCC can encourage broadband deployment across America to close “the digital divide … between those who can use cutting-edge communications services and those who do not,” according to Chairman Ajit Pai.

 

Franken Urges Pai To Maintain Net Neutrality

Sen. Al Franken has written to newly appointed FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai in defense of net neutrality, vowing to “fight to protect it every step of the way.” Pai has publicly opposed net neutrality as championed by former Chairman Tom Wheeler since before the Open Internet order was put in place — and afterwards, publishing a 67-page critique of its implementation.

This Week: FCC Enters New Era Under Pai

The FCC will hold an open meeting on Tuesday, its first of the year and the first with Ajit Pai as its chairman. Pai has had a busy start to his new role since President Trump tapped him to lead the agency last Monday

JESSELL AT LARGE

Broadcasters Have Rare Champion In Pai

Not since the late James Quello has the FCC had a leader who values free, universal over-the-air TV as Ajit Pai apparently does and believes in policies that would help sustain it. His record shows he favors relaxation of national and local ownership limits, the rapid rollout of ATSC 3.0 and a hands-off approach to programming.