Speaking at the NAB Radio Show in Dallas, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai called for an end to cross-ownership restrictions, a study on improving the AM band and relaxed rules to allow more foreign investment in US broadcasting.
Pai assured those assembled in Dallas that despite impressions to the contrary, there are many dedicated people at the FCC who are concerned about broadcasting’s health and well-being, and that he is one of them.
He believes it is time to end restrictions on broadcast-newspaper cross-ownership, noting that the competitive playing field that spawned the rules in the first place no longer exist. He believes ending the restrictions will put more local news on the airwaves, and in many cases, will allow newspapers in some smaller markets a chance at simple survival.
Pai noted that even as the FM band adds stations, the AM is losing them, and indicated he is interested in revitalizing the service. He said a number of proposals have been put forward and supports launch of what he called an AM Revitalization Initiative next year.
The Commissioner also stated his support for requests to allow foreign investment in FCC-licensed properties in excess of the current 25% cap on a case-by-case basis. He believes it can foster growth and job creation, and may provide a viable option for minority entrants into the business, increasing diversity in the communications field.
Pai concluded, “In the coming years, I can’t guarantee that you’ll agree with each vote that I cast at the Commission and every position that I take. But I can assure you that I will always listen to what broadcasters have to say and seriously consider your input as I reach my conclusions. And I can also promise you that I will be making decisions as someone who believes that it is important for our nation to have a strong and vibrant radio and television broadcasting industry.”