Sen. Markey 'Slices' Up FCC's Pai

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) continued the Senate floor pounding of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's renomation to the commission Thursday (Sept. 28) in advance of a vote to close Senate debate and proceed to a vote.

He was one of many lining up to take aim at the deregulatory Republican. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), ranking member of the Senate Communications Subcommittee planned to weigh in later in the day.

"At every turn, Chairman Pai choses corporate interests over consumers," Markey said. He told his colleagues that the FCC now stands for "Forgetting Consumers and Competition" under Pai. He also said he would outline who is getting a big piece of the FCC pie under Pai.

He even used a visual aide, an FCC logo divided into Pai wedges he moved from the "consumer" side of his chart to the "corporation" side.

Like his Democratic predecessors, including Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Ron Wyden (R-Ore.), Markey tied his opposition to Pai's proposal to roll back Title II classification of ISPs and rethink net neutrality rules and, like his predecessors, said Pai was in the thrall of big media to the detriment of consumers. But he also pointed to Pai actions on Lifeline, broadband privacy, the Sinclair-Tribune merger, e-rate and more as reasons to deny him a seat on the commission, which were other pieces of the pie he moved to the "corporation" side in his own version of a Senate Ted Talk.

Markey, along with Wyden, has been one of the biggest defenders of Title II and strongest critics of Pai, who has pledged to wield a deregulatory weed whacker.

Pai's term expired in June 2016, but he can serve until the end of the year and has been nominated by the President to a new, five-year term, retroactive to June 2016.

The Senate is planning to vote to invoke cloture on debate, which will require another 30 hours before a vote on Pai's nomination, which puts it on Monday unless the Senate stayed in for a Friday session.

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.