FCC's Pai Institutes More Process Reforms

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has added two more process reforms to his growing list of changes at the FCC.

The first is related to his decision to release the texts of two February meeting agenda items as a pilot project for doing so with all meeting items before they are voted on.

At the suggestion of Democratic commissioner Mignon Clyburn, Pai said Tuesday (Feb. 7), he will release a one-page "fact sheet" summary of items when the text is released for any March meeting items.

Also, at the suggestion of Commissioner Michael O'Rielly, any substantive changes to an item between the time it is circulated and the meeting at which it is voted will have to be proposed by commissioners rather than staffers.

"This reform will help promote accountability and allow Commissioners to better understand where edits are coming from," said Pai in a statement, adding that the change is effective immediately.

O'Rielly has long argued for more accountability for changes, including his longstanding objection to allowing items to be edited after they have been voted.

"I appreciate the Chairman’s quick attention to the 'own your edits' idea that many of us have pushed to be adopted, as it will provide better transparency as we negotiate our items," said O'Rielly. "I also support Commissioner Clyburn’s suggestion on making summaries available for items that have been made Public.  While both relatively small fixes, this bodes well for the new Commission’s ability to work together to get our processes into better shape."

“Today’s announcement that the FCC will be implementing process reforms championed by Commissioners O’Rielly and Clyburn is a welcome sign of a return to bipartisanship at the commission," said House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn. "While the commissioners won’t always agree, it is heartening to see that they can find common ground on the need for reforms to the broken FCC process. I once again applaud Chairman Pai for these thoughtful actions [she also praised earlier process reforms from the new chairman] and commend the entire commission for their decision to work together to bring transparency, accountability, and collegiality back to the FCC.”

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.