Reactions to Ajit Pai Being Designated as FCC Chairman

On January 23, It was announced that President Donald Trump named Ajit Pai as the next Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Pai has been an FCC Commissioner since 2012, and therefore did not need a nomination hearing or confirmation vote in the Senate to become the Chairman. Chairman Pai will need to be reconfirmed in the Senate in 2017 before receiving a new five-year term.

FCC
Chairman Pai: "I am deeply grateful to the President of the United States for designating me the 34th Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. I look forward to working with the new Administration, my colleagues at the Commission, members of Congress, and the American public to bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans.

FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly: “I offer my sincere congratulations and best wishes to my friend and colleague, Commissioner Ajit Pai, for being designated as Chair of the FCC. His thoughtful approach, deep knowledge base, and sense of humor have been great assets to the Commission, and it makes sense that President Trump handpicked him to carry out the new Administration’s broad vision for the agency. I know the
Commission will thrive under his leadership, and I look forward to working with him and his team to tackle the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities that will present themselves."

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn: “I congratulate Commissioner Ajit Pai on being named Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Ajit is bright, driven and committed to bringing connectivity to all Americans. I am hopeful that we can come together to serve the public interest by supporting competition, public safety, and consumer protection.”

Legislators
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD): "“Commissioner Pai is well known for his intellectual rigor, passion for innovative ideas and technologies, and adherence to the letter and spirit of the law,” said Chairman Thune. “I enjoy his can-do attitude, admire his principled transparency, and share his commitment to rural communities. I look forward to working with him as he steps into his new role as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.”

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), the ranking member of the Senate Commerce subcommittee on technology, promised that Chairman Pai would run into a “wall of opposition” from those committed to protecting net neutrality. But he said he's cautiously optimistic that Chairman Pai may seek to find a middle ground. “The Commerce Committee and the FCC have been islands of nonpartisanship over the years and only recently have there been so many party-line votes,” said Sen Schatz. “So perhaps Chairman Pai can get back to a place where the FCC does the work of trying to arrive at compromises. If he doesn’t, then both sides will dig in and we’ll fight accordingly, but my guidance to him would be to look for common ground, because the Democratic commissioners are reasonable people and usually we’re arguing about the how and not the what.”

“As with many appointments by Mr. Trump, I am concerned that as Chairman, Commissioner Pai will work for policies that benefit special interests and Big Cable, which have sought for years to control access to content on the internet above the interests of the American people,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said. “I will hold the FCC accountable to protect consumers and fight any attempt to roll back net neutrality," he added.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), a member of the Commerce Committee, also promised to “vigorously oppose” any efforts to undermine net neutrality or other consumer protections.

Sen Maria Cantwell (D-WA) sent President Donald Trump a letter arguing that Pai is "not a supporter of the FCC’s strong rules to protect an open internet, putting at risk our robust net neutrality rules and the three million internet economy jobs it supports."

House Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Communications Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN): "Today we welcome a new era of leadership and decision making at the FCC. Commissioner Pai’s expertise on the issues has been well documented and we’re looking forward to working with him to advance conservative, thoughtful solutions at the FCC.”

House Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Communications Subcommittee Ranking Member Mike Doyle (D-PA) wrote Chairman Pai a letter. They said, "By some measures, the FCC oversees approximately one sixth of the United States economy. Your success at managing such a critical agency is dependent on your ability to be responsive to members of Congress on both sides of the aisle; your willingness to drive towards consensus on major Commission actions; and your respect for career staff—the lifeblood of the agency.” In the letter the members asked Pai to make three key commitments during his tenure as Chairman of the FCC:
1. You will ensure that the Commission will brief relevant Committee leadership—no matter their party—on all major decisions before the Commission acts and that you will be responsive to all Congressional inquiries.
2. You will work with your colleagues in a bi-partisan fashion to reach consensus before moving ahead with major policy decisions.
3. You will not take any effort to retaliate against, undermine, demote or marginalize civil servants on the basis of their analysis or their work under previous Commission leadership.

Public Interest Advocates

"I congratulate Ajit Pai on his elevation to Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. From personal experience I know it to be an intensely challenging but intensely rewarding job,” said former FCC Chairman Michael Copps, now an advisor to Common Cause. "As a bit of unsolicited advice I encourage the new Chairman to take the Commission outside of Washington, so Commissioners can meet with and hear from the people who live with the policies they make. I am totally convinced the majority of Americans, including many who voted for the new president, strongly favor an open internet and a media ecosystem that is up to the task of informing democracy,” he added.

Gene Kimmelman, President and CEO at Public Knowledge: “Commissioner Pai has a history of attacking consumer protections, from the Open Internet order to our right to privacy online. Even so, every Commissioner who has been elevated to Chairman discovers the job is very different from what he or she thought it would be. Most quickly discover that getting things done while running an agency sometimes requires a different set of skills as well as a willingness to compromise. With this in mind, we urge Chairman Pai to preserve consumer protections and to focus on driving down prices and expanding choices for all essential communications services while preserving the Commission’s recent pro-competitive and consumer protection rules and actions.”

"Two things are certain: The Federal Communications Commission is uniquely situated to improve the everyday lives of all Americans and Chairman Pai now has the honor and bears the weight of responsibility of leading that agency into the future," said the National Hispanic Media Coalition. "NHMC is hopeful that Chairman Pai will be truly open to the diverse viewpoints of all stakeholders as he leads his agency in service of the people of this country and the public interest. Chairman Pai’s views have often diverged from those of NHMC and other groups representing the voices of communities of color and vulnerable populations on a number of key telecommunications issues— namely the importance of preserving the open internet, support for critical programs striving for universal access to broadband like Lifeline and E-Rate, the impact of increasing consolidation on the media and telecommunications industries, and the ongoing fight for prison phone justice. NHMC urges Chairman Pai to begin his new term with a commitment to achieving the fundamental goals of the FCC: increasing diversity, enforcing rules that protect consumers, striving for truly universal service, and fostering real competition.”

Sarah Morris, director of open internet policy for New America's Open Technology Institute, had some advice for the new chairman: “Throughout his tenure at the FCC, Commissioner Pai has been a steadfast opponent of net neutrality and consumer privacy rules, and a rubber stamp for mega-mergers," she said. "His anti-regulatory agenda is a gift to telecom lobbyists and a major threat to consumers, small businesses, and the American economy. We urge the Commission to remain true to its public interest mandate and resist efforts to roll back vital consumer protections like the Open Internet Order. The American people need an FCC that fights for them, and they will hold this FCC Chairman accountable.”

Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron made the following statement: “Ajit Pai has been on the wrong side of just about every major issue that has come before the FCC during his tenure. He’s never met a mega-merger he didn’t like or a public safeguard he didn’t try to undermine. He’s been an inveterate opponent of Net Neutrality, expanded broadband access for low-income families, broadband privacy, prison-phone justice, media diversity and more. Pai has been an effective obstructionist who has always been eager to push out what the new presidential administration might call alternative facts in defense of the corporate interests he used to represent in the private sector. If Trump really wanted an FCC chairman who’d stand up against the runaway media consolidation that he himself decried in the AT&T/Time Warner deal, Pai would have been his last choice — though corporate lobbyists across the capital are probably thrilled. Millions of Americans from across the political spectrum have looked to the FCC to protect their rights to connect and communicate and cheered decisions like the historic Net Neutrality ruling, and Pai threatens to undo all of that important work. Those millions will rise up again to oppose his reactionary agenda.”

“High-speed Internet is essential to economic and social life in the 21st century," said the Communications Workers of America. We look to Chairman Pai to promote policies that encourage quality jobs and investment in broadband infrastructure to all Americans, protect an Open Internet, and preserve a diverse media that is so essential to our democracy. In March 2016, then-Commissioner Pai stated that the Federal Communications Commission ‘is at its best when it operates in a bipartisan, collaborative, and transparent manner.’ We hope that Chairman Pai will honor his statement and work with his colleagues to ensure that all Americans have affordable access to the Internet through essential FCC programs, such as the modernized Lifeline program, E-rate support to schools and libraries, and the Connect America Fund.”

“It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with Commissioner Pai to protect the interests of children and families on matters that have come before the FCC in recent years," said Parents Television Council President Tim Winter. "During his tenure at the FCC, Commissioner Pai has demonstrated his support for enforcing the longstanding broadcast indecency law, which gives the FCC authority to protect the publicly-owned broadcast airwaves from indecent content during times of the day when children are likely to be watching. He has always been a conscientious listener when the PTC has raised other matters of concern. And as a father of young children himself, he understands that media content can have a powerful and profound impact on children. We applaud today’s appointment of Commissioner Ajit Pai as the new FCC Chairman. We stand ready, willing and able to help him on matters of mutual concern,” said PTC President Tim Winter.

Industry

"We congratulate Ajit Pai on his well-deserved appointment to be Chairman of the FCC," said Michael Powell, chairman of NCTA: The Internet & Television Association. "During his tenure on the Commission, Chairman Pai has consistently demonstrated a common-sense philosophy that consumers are best served by a robust marketplace that encourages investment, innovation and competition. We stand ready to assist Chairman Pai and his colleagues in their effort to promote policies which ensure that America remains a global internet, communications and entertainment leader.”

“We congratulate Ajit Pai on his appointment as Chair of the Federal Communications Commission," said Comcast EVP David Cohen, the company's top policy exec. "He has served with great distinction as a Commissioner over the past four and a half years, and has demonstrated that he is highly qualified to lead the Commission. We commend his tireless efforts to develop and support policies that benefit American consumers and spur greater investment and innovation in broadband technologies to connect all Americans and drive job creation. This is a terrific appointment for the American consumer and the companies the FCC regulates and we look forward to continuing to work with Chairman Pai in his new role.”

"Chairman Pai’s experience at DOJ, in Congress and especially at the FCC, along with his keen intellect and affable nature, will help him lead the FCC to accomplish great things," said Catherine Bohigian, EVP, government affairs, for Charter. "He understands that the appropriate amount of regulation enables businesses to grow, adding jobs, spurring innovation and creating economic growth for the benefit of consumers and the public interest. We at Charter congratulate Chairman Pai and look forward to working with him and his fellow Commissioners to implement a pro-investment, pro-broadband deployment agenda to the benefit of consumers in cities and towns across the country."

"ACA is pleased that President Trump has selected Ajit Pai as Chairman of the FCC," said American Cable Association president Matt Polka. "Over his many years of service as a Commissioner, he has demonstrated an extensive knowledge of communications law and policy and a deep understanding of the communications business and industry dynamic. Moreover, we at ACA have always found he has an open door to listen to our views and proposals. He respects and understands the concerns of independent cable operators, especially in those cases where they have been required to shoulder enormous regulatory burdens to the same extent as much larger providers, such as new obligations to comply with the Open Internet's enhanced transparency rules."

“Ajit Pai is an exceptional choice to head the Federal Communications Commission," said USTelecom President Jonathan Spalter. "He’s a thoughtful, forward-looking and energetic leader who has never forgotten his roots in rural Kansas, and the need to deliver high-speed broadband access to all parts of our country. "We share Commissioner Pai's vision for a ‘Broadband First’ future based on a bold but pragmatic strategy to erase the many regulatory barriers impeding the expansion of our nation's communications infrastructure, and the jobs and economic opportunity that depend on it," said Spalter. "I am excited to work with the new chairman -- as well as with the new Administration and Congress -- to advance policies, partnerships, and programs that will bring broadband's benefits to all our families, communities, and businesses, and ensure our nation's telecommunications innovators can invest and compete on a level regulatory playing field.”

Bob Quinn, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President of External & Legislative Affairs: “Today, on his first official day in office, President Trump designated Ajit Pai as the new FCC Chairman. No one is more prepared to reframe the agency to address the needs of this rapidly changing marketplace. Chairman Pai will work with his fellow Commissioners to quickly and decisively put back in place the commonsense regulatory framework necessary to support the President’s agenda for job creation, innovation and investment. Congratulations to Chairman Pai. We look forward to working with him and his team and the FCC to support President Trump’s growth agenda.”

"During his tenure, Chairman Pai has been a strong advocate of smart, forward-looking policies in the communications space, a steadfast supporter of issues including broadband expansion, particularly in rural areas, and a proponent of innovation and new ideas that will benefit consumers and the nation as a whole," said Verizon SVP Kathy Grillo. "We believe Chairman Pai truly knows and understands the issues facing our industry, and is a critical thinker who will look for ways to help communications and technology companies fuel growth in the American economy.

John Jones, SVP for public policy and government relations for CenturyLink, said that he hopes Chairman Pai will free large telcos from what he says are burdensome regulations. “We look forward to continuing to work with Commissioner Pai, who will bring a much-needed free market approach to his new role,” Jones said. “Hopefully this will result in the thoughtful elimination of outdated, unnecessary federal regulations that stifle investment and no longer reflect rapidly evolving consumer demands and the entry of innovative, new competitors.”

“Frontier looks forward to working with Chairman Pai and the Commission on issues of critical importance to our country, such as expanding broadband deployment in rural America and updating FCC regulations to promote next-generation technologies,” Frontier said.

“Since joining the commission in 2012, Commissioner Pai has shown a commitment to solving rural broadband challenges and to thinking creatively about ways our country can more effectively deploy and sustain advanced communications in rural America," said NTCA CEO Shirley Bloomfield.

“CCA fully supports the nomination of Commissioner Pai as the next Chairman of the FCC,” said Competitive Carriers Association President Steven Berry. “Commissioner Pai is an avowed believer in creating a regulatory environment that encourages investment and innovation, and strongly believes in policies that respect the technological changes of today’s marketplace. He has made his office open to CCA members, and with his roots in Kansas, certainly understands the importance of ensuring high-speed mobile broadband all across the country, including rural areas. I congratulate Commissioner Pai on his nomination and look forward to our continued work with the entire Commission on creating a more competitive ecosystem for the benefit of carriers and consumers alike.”

"Commissioner Pai is a champion for innovation, leading the way on key issues that impact the growth of our modern communications networks, ensuring consumers' access to those networks in underserved areas and cautioning against unnecessary, growth-chilling regulation," said Consumer Technology Association President Gary Shapiro. "CTA looks forward to continuing to work with Commissioner Pai to tackle challenging issues, including the allocation of additional spectrum licensed and unlicensed bands to power consumers' growing demand for anytime/anywhere connectivity and expanding broadband access and digital opportunity to all Americans."

“As FCC Chairman, commissioner Pai will be a champion of consumers in all corners of the country during this time of profound wireless innovation," said Diane Smith, interim chair of Mobile Future. "His forward-thinking leadership will be instrumental in expanding the infrastructure needed to support the opportunity-rich transition to a 5G future. We are confident he will maintain a razor-sharp focus on creating an environment that promotes innovation and entrepreneurship, and have no doubt the FCC will be a catalyst for progress under his chairmanship.”

"Chairman Pai brings invaluable experience and insight that is sure to benefit American consumers and businesses through sound policymaking," said the Internet Innovation Alliance. "IIA looks forward to working with Chairman Pai and the entire Commission on new policies to advance investment and deployment of 21st century, next-generation, high-speed broadband networks."

“As commissioner at the FCC, Ajit Pai has released a substantive plan for broadband network deployment that has the potential to empower communities around the nation,' said Chip Pickering, CEO of INCOMPAS. "We look forward to working with him on these shared goals. INCOMPAS believes competition policy, inspired by President Ronald Reagan, is the fastest way to deploy new broadband infrastructure that is both fast and affordable. Whether urban or rural, the homes, office buildings and factories with more broadband competition have more connections to the future. We look forward to working with Chairman Pai toward this goal.”

CTIA, Meredith Attwell Baker, CEO: "On behalf of CTIA and the wireless industry, we congratulate Chairman Pai. During his time on the Commission, he has championed spectrum and infrastructure reform and is a leading voice for a common sense approach to open internet and privacy. We applaud Chairman Pai's work and vision including his Digital Empowerment Agenda and its promise of reducing regulatory barriers to broadband deployment and expanding opportunities for innovation and economic growth across the country. We look forward to working with Chairman Pai and the FCC to secure America's position as a global wireless leader."

“I applaud the expected appointment of Ajit Pai as the next Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)," said David Chavern, News Media Alliance president."Commissioner Pai has been an avid supporter of the news media industry, recognizing the importance of investment in journalism," said Chavern. “His continued service and leadership would be a valuable contribution to the Commission.”

According to Mediacom, the former Verizon corporate lawyer is just a simple populist who grew up in Parsons, Kansas, and “is personally aware of the daily struggles faced by working-class citizens living in small cities and towns across our nation. In his new role as Chairman, we hope he works to balance a regulatory landscape that today prioritizes the political agendas of Hollywood and Silicon Valley over the economic challenges faced by rural Americans."


Ajit Pai Statement (Pai) Michael O'Rielly Statement (O'Rielly) Mignon Clyburn Statement (Clyburn) Walden and Blackburn Statement on Pai's Appointment to Head FCC (Walden and Blackburn) Pallone, Doyle Ask FCC Chairman for Commitments on Working with Congress & Managing Agency (Pallone) Thune Statement on Pai’s Appointment to Lead FCC (Thune) The telecom industry is already celebrating Trump’s business-friendly FCC pick (The Verge) AT&T Applauds President Trump's Decision to Name Ajit Pai as New FCC Chairman (AT&T) Public Knowledge Urges New FCC Chairman to Embrace Competition, Consumer Protection (PK) Reaction to Pai FCC Chairmanship Pours In (B&C) Pai FCC Chairmanship Reaction, Take II (B&C) News Media Alliance Backs FCC's Pai (B&C) Big Telecom is Ecstatic About Trump's New FCC Boss Ajit Pai (Vice) Ajit Pai Confirms He Is Trump's Choice for FCC Chairman (Free Press) Dems promise to stand up to FCC chair on net neutrality (The Hill) Mediacom: FCC’s new anti-reg chair Pai really a populist who knows ‘struggles faced by working-class citizens’ (Fierce - Mediacom) AT&T, CenturyLink and Frontier praise Pai’s chairmanship, but others fear he'll undo consumer protections (Fierce) Trade associations, conservative groups quick to praise Pai as FCC pick (Fierce)