Thursday, January 19, 2017

FCC: Ajit Pai Expected To Be Named Interim Chair

Ajit Pai
Commissioner Ajit Pai is expected to be named interim Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission on Friday, following the departure of present Chairman Tom Wheeler.  White House spokesman Sean Spicer confirmed a meeting between Pai and President-Elect Trump and referred to Pai as the current FCC Chairman.

Pai has served as a commissioner since May 14, 2012, after being nominated for a Republican Party position on the Commission by President Barack Obama at the recommendation of Mitch McConnell.  He was unanimously confirmed by the US Senate in May of 2012 and began serving the following week.

Pai has been friendly to broadcasters and has taken particular interest in revitalization of the AM band.   As a demonstration of his interest in local broadcasting, Pai conducted a round table discussion with a group of Seattle area radio and television broadcast executives in September of 2016.

Pai, who is a lawyer by training, has served the government, Congress, and the private sector.

Pai, whose parents immigrated from India, has been at loggerheads with the heads of FCC over their functioning and have engaged in somber discourses.

Recently, Pai had an altercation with the FCC over the issue of net neutrality when the federal agency questioned the legality of offerings that are used by people to access online music, videos, and other content free of charge.

In one of his recent tweets, Pai wrote: “Every American should have a chance to be a participant in, rather than a spectator of, the digital economy.” This is a clear statement of how he looks at the future of digitalization.

In one of his recent articles, titled “A Digital Empowerment Agenda,” Pai wrote: “We shouldn’t be trying to shoehorn new services into old regulatory frameworks no matter how poor the fit. Instead, the government should ask whether consumers are benefiting from these new services, products, and modes of distribution. If they are, and there’s no systematic evidence of fraud or misrepresentation against consumers, the government shouldn’t erect artificial roadblocks to competition—and certainly not for the purpose of benefiting entrenched interests.”

In December, Pai said in a speech before the Free State Foundation in Washington, DC: “I’m optimistic that last month’s election will prove to be an inflection point—and that during the Trump Administration, we will shift from playing defense at the FCC to going on offense.”

He also added that the commission “need[s] to remove outdated and unnecessary regulations… We need to fire up the weed whacker and remove those rules that are holding back investment, innovation, and job creation.”

According to, Pai is the fourth Indian American in contention for a key administration position. The other three are Nikki Haley, who will be U.S. Ambassador to the UN, and Seema Verma, who has been named as the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Balaji Srinivasan, who is reportedly the Trump pick for the commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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