Friday, February 3, 2017

FCC Chairman Pai Vows Transparency

New FCC chairman Ajit Pai announced Thursday that he wants the commission wants to be more transparent in how information on its proceedings is made available to the public.

According to, Pai detailed a new pilot program that will make documents relating to upcoming FCC Open Meetings available through the agency's website before those meetings take place. In the past, any documents circulated among members of the commission were kept under wraps until after the final vote on a matter.

Pai said that releasing the supporting documents ahead of time will help the public understand the decision-making process and allow the FCC to develop final rules that are more in line with the public interest. As part of the pilot phase, Pai released two documents that pertain to items that will be discussed at this month's Open Meeting on February 23rd. Those topics are allowing TV stations to use ATSC 3.0, the next-gen broadcast standard, and giving AM radio stations more flexibility with FM translators.

If the new policy becomes the norm, we could be privy to info in advance on how Pai plans to relieve the "unjustified burden" that net neutrality transparency rules place on wireless carriers and ISPs.

Michael O'Rielly
Fellow Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O’Reilly also applauded the move, saying, “Today is a major step forward for the agency in terms of transparency and accountability. While it may make our jobs a bit more challenging, it is the right thing to do for the American people, the practitioners before the Commission and the professional press who report on Commission activities. It should make your jobs a whole lot easier and eliminate the wasted time chasing down dead ends!”

In response to the FCC circulating two draft items that will be voted on at the Commission's February meeting, the following statement can be attributed to NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton:

"NAB strongly supports the FCC moving ahead on two proceedings of significant importance to broadcasters – a rulemaking on Next Gen Television and an AM revitalization order. Both items will foster technological innovation, increase opportunities for minority and female owners, and create new and unique services for consumers.

"Chairman Pai deserves credit for departing from the past practice of both Republican and Democratic-controlled Commissions, and publicly releasing the proposals early to inject greater transparency in the FCC rulemaking process. We believe this action will provide greater clarity for stakeholders and greater trust from the public in dealing with the FCC going forward."

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