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Civil Rights Groups Seek Meeting With FCC's Pai

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights—whose over 200 members include the Communications Workers of America, the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League—has written FCC chairman Ajit Pai to express concerns about his early actions as chairman.

Those included rescinding the eligibilities of most of a dozen new Lifeline subsidy applicants and withdrawing the March 2014 guidance on review of joint sales agreements.

They said given those decisions, and Pai's dissent from the FCC's attempt to lower prison phone rates, they requested a meeting with the chairman to express their concern in person, adding that they were encouraged that he had said he was interested in hearing from those who disagree with him.

"While we appreciate your announced intentions to address the digital divide and to proceed in a more transparent manner, your recent decisions on Lifeline, Joint Sales Agreements (JSAs), and inmate calling rates are of profound concern to The Leadership Conference and its Media/Telecommunications Task Force, organizations that are dedicated to ensuring affordable broadband, increasing media ownership diversity, and ending predatory prison phone rates," they wrote. 

The conference did praise Pai for "adopting procedures to improve Commission transparency and regular operations," and said it agreed with him that “the FCC is at its best when it proceeds on the basis of consensus; good communications policy knows no partisan affiliation” and his insistence that the FCC “respect the law as set forth” by Congress and the courts.

The letter was entered into the record at Wednesday's FCC oversight hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee.