Ajit Pai To Leave FCC On Jan. 20
Today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced that he intends to leave the commission on Jan. 20, 2021.
“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve at the Federal Communications Commission, including as chairman of the FCC over the past four years,” Pai said in a statement. “I am grateful to President Trump for giving me the opportunity to lead the agency in 2017, to President Obama for appointing me as a commissioner in 2012, and to Senate Majority Leader McConnell and the Senate for twice confirming me. To be the first Asian-American to chair the FCC has been a particular privilege. As I often say: only in America.
“I also deeply appreciate the chance to have worked alongside the FCC’s talented staff. They are the agency’s best assets, and they have performed heroically, especially during the pandemic. It’s also been an honor to work with my fellow commissioners to execute a strong and broad agenda. Together, we’ve delivered for the American people over the past four years: closing the digital divide; promoting innovation and competition, from 5G on the ground to broadband from space; protecting consumers; and advancing public safety. And this FCC has not shied away from making tough choices. As a result, our nation’s communications networks are now faster, stronger, and more widely deployed than ever before.
“I am proud of how productive this commission has been, from commencing five spectrum auctions and two rural broadband reverse auctions in four years, to opening 1,245 megahertz of mid-band spectrum for unlicensed use, to adopting more than 25 orders through our Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative, to aggressively protecting our communications networks from national security threats at home and abroad, to designating 988 as the three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and much, much more. I’m also proud of the reforms we have instituted to make the agency more accountable to the American people. In particular, for the first time ever, we’ve made public drafts of the proposals and orders slated for a vote three weeks before the agency’s monthly meetings, making this the most transparent FCC in history.
“Last but not least, I want to thank my family for all they have done to enable me to serve at the agency. The public service of one generally results from the private sacrifice of many, and I’m grateful for their love and support.”
In response to today’s announcement, NAB President-CEO Gordon Smith said: “Chairman Pai has been a champion of free and local broadcasting since he joined the FCC. His fair, thoughtful approach to regulation led to many common-sense reforms that were long overdue. Most notably, Chairman Pai modernized the commission’s media ownership rules, authorized and promoted the transition to the NextGen TV transmission standard, helped revitalize the AM radio band and cleared out some significant regulatory underbrush that was no longer in the public interest.
“Apart from his many policy advances, Chairman Pai also demonstrated great leadership, creativity, a sense of humor and always had an open door. America’s broadcasters thank Chairman Pai for his public service to the benefit of the millions of viewers and listeners who tune in to their local radio and TV stations every day.”
And ACA Connects President-CEO Matthew M. Polka said: “ACA Connects salutes FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on his tenure at the agency, including his time as a commissioner before rising to chairman in 2017. We commend him on his efforts to close the digital divide, eliminate outdated regulations, and account for the disparate impact that government rules and regulations have on small businesses.
“With respect to broadband, his FCC fostered a regulatory environment that facilitated enormous investment, such that during the COVID-19 emergency our broadband networks were fully capable of supporting Americans working from home. In addition, Chairman Pai’s FCC reformed and updated the universal service programs, shrinking the digital divide. On video, his FCC modernized numerous media rules and implemented the retransmission consent/good faith provisions for buying groups of smaller MVPDs, which allowed these providers to better compete. Finally, his FCC’s C-Band Order allowed earth station operators the option to make C-band transition decisions that meet their needs.
“We wish Chairman Pai nothing but the best in his bright future and thank him for his many years of public service.”
America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) president and CEO Patrick Butler issued the following statement: “America’s Public Television Stations wish to express our gratitude to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai for working so constructively and successfully with us on a range of issues important to public television.
“Over the course of the past four years, Chairman Pai has always been willing to listen to our concerns and encourage our ambitions, and he has gone well beyond the call of duty to speak at our Public Media Summit, visit with our board of trustees, and consistently and publicly reinforce his support for our work in the nation’s service.
“Through spectrum auctions, media modernization reforms, children’s educational programming initiatives, championing the NextGen broadcast standard and so much more, Chairman Pai has been a consequential leader in the communications industry, and he has done so with great common sense and uncommon personal grace.
“For all of that, we thank him, and we wish him all the best in the next chapter of his life.”