D.C. Leaders Ask Pai For Pause On TV Rule Changes


FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has a whole bunch of mail from Congress to answer.

Thank Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell for the cordial written correspondence.

Dingell is one of 13 Members of Congress who penned a letter to Pai on Thursday (11/9) that raises “serious concerns” regarding the Commission’s proposal — authored by the Chairman — “to essentially eliminate the existing broadcast TV ownership rules with virtually no public input.”

Joined by such Members of Congress as Mike Doyle and Jerry McNerney, Dingell and the House Members say the Reconsideration Order, which will be up for a vote at the Nov. 16 November Open Meeting, “is an obvious attempt to evade the notice and comment requirements that should accompany a decision of this magnitude.”

Further, they claim that the “sweeping deregulation” is being done at the behest of Sinclair Broadcast Group.

The vote, they say, “will provide the public with almost no opportunity to offer input and relies on data from three years ago. Using such tactics is contrary to prior reviews by the Commission, shirks the Commission’s duties under the Administrative Procedures Act, and is a disservice to the public interest.”

They add, “It is frightening to imagine what the future holds if the Commission votes in favor of your proposal. There will be few boundaries for Sinclair—or other broadcasters—from consolidating the use of these important public airwaves into fewer and fewer hands.”

Thus, they request that Pai seeks additional public comment on these proposed rule changes and remove the vote from the Nov. 16 docket.

“A transparent and open process will allow for a more thorough debate and better inform the Commission with current data before it takes such dramatic action,” they write.

Earlier Thursday, Dingell, a member of powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, wrote to Pai and demanded “a complete understanding of the overall impacts” of the next-gen TV standard. A vote on the voluntary use of ATSC 3.0 by TV broadcasters is also on the Nov. 16 docket.