Pai: Commissioners Will Vote on Consent Decrees
FCC chairman Ajit Pai says the Enforcement Bureau will no longer get to sign off on consent decrees settling proposed forfeitures without the commissioners voting on them.
That was the latest in a series of process reforms the new chairman is implementing in his first few weeks in the center seat.
"I have instructed the Enforcement Bureau that starting today, any consent decree settling a Notice of Apparent Liability or Forfeiture Order issued by the full Commission must now be approved by a vote of the full Commission," said Pai. "This will help promote Commissioners’ involvement in and accountability for important enforcement decisions."
Related: AT&T: FCC's Enforcement Bureau Needs Reforming
Pai said that over "the past few years"—that would be under a Democratic chair or chairs—rather than the full commission voting, the bureau chief has been signing off on the settlements at the direction of the chairman's office. Most recently that would have been chairman Tom Wheeler and Enforcement Bureau chief Travis LeBlanc.
"That process ends now," he said, by which he meant more than rhetorically. Pai said the reform was in force immediately. In fact, he said the bureau had just Wednesday circulated a consent decree for the commissioners' consideration that would conclude an investigation approved by the full commission.
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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.