The FCC will look very different in 2021 following the announcement that Chairman Ajit Pai would be stepping down from the Commission once President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in. Commissioner Michael O’Rielly is leaving as well. Both were very friendly to radio. Here’s some of the reaction to the Pai announcement.
FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly congratulated his friend for a distinguished run as Chairman. “His Commission ushered in many policy advancements and made strides updating communications regulations, from restoring the Commission’s successful light-touch regulatory framework for Internet service providers to modernizing media rules, opening up more spectrum bands for commercial use, and expanding broadband access to unserved Americans. I wish him all the best in the next stage of his career and thank him for his great service to our nation.”
Broadcast Attorney Frank Montero said he believes Chairman Pai is the biggest friend to radio, and particularly AM radio to sit in the FCC Chairman’s suite since Jim Quello. “Following other FCC Chairs that seemed constantly at odds with broadcasters and appeared to focus more on broadband and mobile wireless, Pai walked the walk and emphasized the continued importance of radio in our society. He never wrote off radio and with his AM revitalization and media modernization initiatives he sought to give it a needed lift. Even with the explosion of social media, satellite distribution, Netflix and other OTT services, Pai understood that in times of social and political uncertainty, punishing storms and pandemics, and when the electricity, Wi-Fi and broadband go out, the average citizens turns to radio as their source of news and information. I believe that is because he still carries within him that boy from Kansas who listened to radio at night to hear the ball game and listen to his favorite songs.”
NAB 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 Next Gen 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.”
Broadcast attorney John Garziglia tells Radio Ink: “Our radio industry will long miss Chairman Pai. He achieved a radio broadcasting Chairman-of-Renown status both for an understanding of the radio business, and for appreciating and improving upon our myriad of broadcaster issues. His name will forever be synonymous with AM revitalization.”
Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel: “While we did not always agree on policy matters, I always valued our shared commitment to public service. Serving the American people is a tremendous honor and I wish him the best in the future.”