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Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai, in Statement, Confirms Appointment as Agency Chairman

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WASHINGTON, January 23, 2017 — In a statement released on the web site of the Federal Communications Communications, and emailed to reporters at 4:48 p.m. ET, Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai, a Republican announced his selection as Chairman of the agency, a nominally independent agency whose chairman is designated by President Donald Trump.

Pai said: “I am deeply grateful to the President of the United States for designating me the 34th Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. I look forward to working with the new Administration, my colleagues at the Commission, members of Congress, and the American public to bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans.”

Pai is one of two Republicans and one Democrat currently on the commission, with fellow Republican Mike O’Rielly, and Democrat Mignon Clyburn. The agency is authorized to be composed of five commissioners, and is generally split between three members of the president’s party and two members of an opposing party.

Among the commissioner, industry non-profit reactions after the official announcement:

Mignon Clyburn:

“I congratulate Commissioner Ajit Pai on being named Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Ajit is bright, driven and committed to bringing connectivity to all Americans. I am hopeful that we can come together to serve the public interest by supporting competition, public safety, and consumer protection.”

NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association: 

“On behalf of the more than 800 community-based telecommunications providers in the membership of NTCA, I congratulate Commissioner Pai on his designation as FCC chairman,” said NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield.

“Since joining the commission in 2012, Commissioner Pai has shown a commitment to solving rural broadband challenges and to thinking creatively about ways our country can more effectively deploy and sustain advanced communications in rural America. In an address to the NTCA membership in early 2013, Commissioner Pai was the first of his colleagues to call for universal service to enable broadband services in areas served by our members, and Commissioner Pai has consistently placed a spotlight on the kinds of resources and resourcefulness needed to connect America. Having grown up in a small town in Kansas and noting in his address to NTCA members that ‘rural America is different,’ he has a deep and genuine understanding of how the services that NTCA members deliver improve the quality of life and promote economic development in our rural communities.

“We look forward to continuing to work with Chairman Pai, and with his colleagues Mignon Clyburn and Michael O’Rielly, on advancing our nation’s broadband goals.”

Public Knowledge:

“Commissioner Pai has a history of attacking consumer protections, from the Open Internet order to our right to privacy online,” said Public Knowledge President Gene Kimmelman. “Even so, every Commissioner who has been elevated to Chairman discovers the job is very different from what he or she thought it would be. Most quickly discover that getting things done while running an agency sometimes requires a different set of skills as well as a willingness to compromise.

“With this in mind, we urge Chairman Pai to preserve consumer protections and to focus on driving down prices and expanding choices for all essential communications services while preserving the Commission’s recent pro-competitive and consumer protection rules and actions.”

US Telecom:

“Ajit Pai is an exceptional choice to head the Federal Communications Commission,” said CEO Jonathan Spalter. He’s a thoughtful, forward-looking and energetic leader who has never forgotten his roots in rural Kansas, and the need to deliver high-speed broadband access to all parts of our country.

“We share Commissioner Pai’s vision for a ‘Broadband First’ future based on a bold but pragmatic strategy to erase the many regulatory barriers impeding the expansion of our nation’s communications infrastructure, and the jobs and economic opportunity that depend on it. I am excited to work with the new chairman — as well as with the new Administration and Congress —  to advance policies, partnerships, and programs that will bring broadband’s benefits to all our families, communities, and businesses, and ensure our nation’s telecommunications innovators can invest and compete on a level regulatory playing field.”

Consumer Technology Association:

“Commissioner Pai is a champion for innovation, leading the way on key issues that impact the growth of our modern communications networks, ensuring consumers’ access to those networks in underserved areas and cautioning against unnecessary, growth-chilling regulation,” said CEO and President Gary Shapiro. “CTA looks forward to continuing to work with Commissioner Pai to tackle challenging issues, including the allocation of additional spectrum licensed and unlicensed bands to power consumers’ growing demand for anytime/anywhere connectivity and expanding broadband access and digital opportunity to all Americans.”

NCTA – The Internet and Television Association:

“We congratulate Ajit Pai on his well-deserved appointment to be Chairman of the FCC,” said NCTA President and CEO Michael Powell, the former Chairman of the FCC during the first administration of George W. Bush. “During his tenure on the Commission, Chairman Pai has consistently demonstrated a common-sense philosophy that consumers are best served by a robust marketplace that encourages investment, innovation and competition.  We stand ready to assist Chairman Pai and his colleagues in their effort to promote policies which ensure that America remains a global internet, communications and entertainment leader.”

Free Press:

“Ajit Pai has been on the wrong side of just about every major issue that has come before the FCC during his tenure,” said President and CEO Craig Aaron. He’s never met a mega-merger he didn’t like or a public safeguard he didn’t try to undermine. He’s been an inveterate opponent of Net Neutrality, expanded broadband access for low-income families, broadband privacy, prison-phone justice, media diversity and more.

“Pai has been an effective obstructionist who has always been eager to push out what the new presidential administration might call alternative facts in defense of the corporate interests he used to represent in the private sector. If Trump really wanted an FCC chairman who’d stand up against the runaway media consolidation that he himself decried in the AT&T/Time Warner deal, Pai would have been his last choice — though corporate lobbyists across the capital are probably thrilled.

“Millions of Americans from across the political spectrum have looked to the FCC to protect their rights to connect and communicate and cheered decisions like the historic Net Neutrality ruling, and Pai threatens to undo all of that important work. Those millions will rise up again to oppose his reactionary agenda.”

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