Serving as Chairman of the FCC has been the honor of a lifetime. And soon, my time in this position will conclude.
Those are the words of Ajit Pai, who will preside over his final FCC Open Meeting come January 13. The meeting won’t involve any new business, with Bureau, Office, and Task Force leaders summarizing the work their teams have done over the last four years in a series of presentations.
And, it could involve a lot of salutes to the man some detest for “killing net neutrality” while others highly admire for his wit, affability, love of the Kansas City Chiefs, and that oversized Reese’s coffee mug.
RBR+TVBR OBSERVATION: Chairman Pai, we hardly new you. But, in the time you served on the FCC, you proved to be a champion of local media. From tiny AM radio stations to the biggest TV stations, you showed you care — perhaps a lot more visibly than your predecessor. The radio and TV broadcasters of America owe you much gratitude, and we will miss you and that coffee mug of yours. And, who can we taunt when the Buffalo Bills advance to the Super Bowl? While our Editor-in-Chief met you once — by chance at Reagan National Airport and you returned to D.C. from a Boston event in November 2019 — you were pleasant, and took time to chat in that airport corridor. Be well, sir, and best of luck on your next role.
On January 20, 2021, Pai will formally depart as FCC Chairman.
He offered the following commentary regarding his time at the FCC, and what may lie ahead for him:
As those who follow the agency know, setting the agenda for and presiding over our monthly meetings is among the key responsibilities of my role. [On Jan. 13], I’ll preside over my 49th — and final — meeting. Before outlining the agenda for that meeting, a few words about its 48 most recent predecessors.
The FCC’s monthly meetings showcase the agency’s highest-profile work. And by any metric, we have been more productive, more collaborative, and more transparent since January 2017 than at any time in recent history. At the 48 meetings held under my leadership, we’ve voted on a total of 286 items at our monthly meetings — an average of six (5.96, to be precise) items per meeting. That compares to a recent historical average of well under three. Of the votes on those 286 items, 205 (71.7%) featured no dissents and 253 (88.5%) were bipartisan. These figures are far higher than comparable figures from the four preceding years. On top of all this, we’ve introduced unprecedented transparency into the process. As a Commissioner, I’d long called for the agency to “show its work” — to share with the American public what the FCC would be voting on before we actually voted. In my second week in office, I made this good-government reform happen.
It’s now routine for the agency to publish the exact text of Commission meeting items three weeks in advance of any votes being cast; to include a one-page fact sheet describing in plain English what each item does; and to post a monthly blog from yours truly introducing the agenda in a hopefully-engaging way.
Bottom line: This FCC has been working hard, working collaboratively, and working openly to deliver results for the American people.
After a wonderful four years, we will soon arrive at the denouement — the FCC’s January 2021 meeting. This meeting will be different from all that have come before during my time. As you know, the FCC’s staff has done amazing work over the past four years — work that’s contributed to the eye-popping statistics above. Since 2017, I’ve seen many, many times how hard and well they’ve worked — across Bureaus and Offices, across disciplines, and even across the country. In order to give them the recognition they’re due and to let them share with you the results they’ve achieved, I have asked FCC Bureaus, Offices, and Task Forces to prepare presentations highlighting their most significant accomplishments over the past four years. It’s been a privilege to work alongside these outstanding public servants. Three weeks hence, the spotlight properly should shine on them.
Until then, I want to take this moment to thank everyone for sharing this journey with me, especially my family. I want to express how grateful I am to my colleagues, including the 1,400-plus staff I’ve had the honor to lead. And I want to wish all of you a safe and happy holiday season. I look forward to seeing you in the New Year.