FCC's Pai Finds Upside in Remote Regulating

Ajit Pai 

Ajit Pai 

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai may be holding more virtual meetings via videoconference even after the pandemic storm has been weathered.  

The chairman has been participating in webinars and international meetings and FCC meetings, all from home, and there are advantages. 

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On just such a webinar with Internet Innovation Alliance's Bruce Melhman, he was asked what had been lost and gained in living every day in a work-from-home situation. 

Pai conceded it was tough to separate work from life, though work also included parenting two young kids. He said what he missed most was the the non-virtual interaction with staff and those who came in to talk about their issues. 

But the pluses, he said, were that he could accept a lot more meeting offers and speaking engagements outside of Washington, a bubble he has long said it is good for regulators to escape when possible. 

Mehlman suggested he had been somewhat allergic to video conferencing, but not so much anymore.  

Pai signaled that it might be possible for more working from home at the FCC, pointing to how productive the agency had been during the pandemic, calling that "proof of concept." 

He also said one thing he had noticed with online meetings was that they were more efficient and focused. He said his pandemic practice has been blocking out 30 minutes, then finding that they get to the meat of the meeting in 10 minutes, point out how much everyone has to do and "call it a day." 

He suggested that focus and efficiency might carry over. He said that would mean stakeholders wouldn't have to fly all the way to D.C. and have an hour meeting if it can be done remotely and with less time.

John Eggerton

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.