Wednesday, October 25, 2017

FCC's Pai: No Talk About License Challenges

C-Span Screenshot
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said he has not talked to the White House about his response to the President's tweets about challenging broadcast licenses.

President Donald Trump, unhappy with an NBC News story be branded fake and fiction, had tweeted that someone ought to challenge the licenses and they should be revoked, "if necessary."

According to Broadcasting&Cable, Pai was asked repeatedly about the issue in a press conference following the October monthly meeting Tuesday.

Asked if the President or White House had reached out to him on the license challenge issue, Pai said no.

The chairman was asked about why it took him so long to respond to the President's tweets. Pai countered that he responded the first time he was asked, which response had been to reiterate that he supports the First Amendment, that the fCC is an independent agency, and to say that the FCC can't pull a license over the content of a newscast, no matter who asked it to.

Pai said that his independence as a regulator was clear and suggested that the focus on his response was politically motivated. "I understand that those who oppose my agenda would like me to be distracted by the controversy of the day," he said.

Attorney Erwin Krasnow, who cochairs the communications team at the law firm of Garvey Schubert Barer, told InsideRadio last week he worries President Trump’s threats on Twitter could have a chilling effect on broadcast news outlets. Pai sidestepped a question about that however, instead offering the FCC will make “appropriate decisions” if or when a case is brought before the agency. “We’re going to apply the facts in the law as we see them,” he said.

Fellow Republican commissioner Brendan Carr made his first comments about the license renewal controversy on Tuesday, addressing the issue during a Bloomberg conference and later when speaking with reporters at the FCC. He echoed statements made by Pai and the other commissioners, promising to live up to the pledge he made to the Senate during his confirmation process earlier this year. “Every decision that I make at this Commission is going to be consistent with the First Amendment,” Carr said.

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