FCC's Pai Will Share Items With Other Commissioners First

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said Monday that neither he nor his staffers will share the contents of upcoming meeting items with the other commissioners before they talk about them publicly or the text of the documents is released.

Pai has complained about briefings that the office of previous chairman Tom Wheeler had with journalists, or information that was published in a blog, that he was not privvy to.

"I thought that actions like these were inappropriate and disrespectful of other Commissioners," he said Monday signaling another process reform.

"Now, as Chairman, I still hold that view. Accordingly, I pledge that during my tenure as Chairman, my office will share with every Commissioner’s office every item that will be considered at an open meeting before anyone in my office discusses the content of those items publicly or the FCC releases the text of those documents. That is what we did with respect to the meeting items for the February 2017 meeting, and that is what we will continue to do in the months to come."

Related: Pai Process Reform Draws Praise

Last week, he published the text of two items he plans to vote on at the February meeting as a test of doing so for all such meeting items before he votes them. If so, that means the other commissioners will always be on the same page as the chairman and the public when it comes to the status of meeting items.

Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), the new chair of the House Communications Subcommittee, was pleased with the move.

“For the last few years, we have been concerned that the actions of the chairman threatened the character and integrity of the FCC as a commission," she said in a statement. " Among the most troubling was the breakdown in communications between the commissioners and the chairman’s tendency to selectively release information to the public before sharing it with the rest of the commission,” said Chairman Blackburn. “Today’s announcement by Chairman Pai marks a return to the collegiality and cooperation between commissioners that was once the hallmark of the FCC. I applaud Chairman Pai for his commitment to restoring the public’s faith in 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.