The FCC oversight hearing Thursday (Sept. 17) is entitled "Trump FCC: Four Years or Lost Opportunities," but FCC chairman Ajit Pai, a lead witness in the Democrat-led House Energy & Commerce Committee Communications Subcommittee clearly doesn't see it that way.
In his prepared testimony, Pai talks about the agency's "significant work and accomplishments," including during the pandemic. He said that includes making it easier and cheaper to build out fiber, stretching rural broadband buildout dollars "as far as we can," rebuilding networks in U.S. territories, and speeding 5G through spectrum auctions.
He also tallied about the speed at which the FCC authorized hundreds of millions of dollars for telehealth and the hundreds millions more it is ready to hand out if Congress authorizes it.
But what Pai sees as speeding buildouts E&C chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) calls rolling back environmental and tribal protections.
The Democrats are also critical of Pai's proposal to cut the Lifeline broadband subsidy program and recalculate the minimum service standard as well as the ongoing issues with broadband mapping, including the FCC's decision to hand out billions in subsidies based on data it has conceded needs improving.
They are also asking why the FCC has not yet opened a proceeding addressing issues of a federal appeals court that rejected most of its broadcast ownership deregulation and why it has only collected $6,700 of over $200 million in robocall fines it has levied.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.