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Today, the U.S. Senate plans to vote on Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai’s nomination to remain at the agency. Chairman Pai’s term expired in June 2016. Public Knowledge contends that Chairman Pai should not be confirmed due to his failure to protect consumers and promote competition.
The following statement can be attributed to Chris Lewis, Vice President at Public Knowledge:
“When assigned the role of FCC Chairman by the President in January, Public Knowledge encouraged Chairman Ajit Pai to preserve consumer protections and to promote affordable access to communications through competition. Unfortunately, his record as Chairman contains a systematic rollback of key consumer protections and policies to promote competition and choice in the marketplace. The Senate must now side clearly with the American public and reject Chairman Pai’s nomination before more consolidation occurs and more consumer protections get repealed.
“The list of protections rolled back by Chairman Pai are long. He supported a highly unpopular repeal of broadband privacy rules. He blocked companies from participating in the Lifeline program to give subsidies to their low-income broadband and phone customers without evidence of fraud. He ignored Congressional mandate by closing the proceeding to promote cable set-top box competition, which would have lowered cable costs for consumers.
“But the list doesn’t stop there. He proposed a rollback of the popular net neutrality rules to maintain an Open Internet, suggesting voluntary ‘rules’ for broadband providers instead. He ended an FCC investigation of zero-rating practices and how companies use them to prefer their own content over others. He weakened Business Data Services (BDS) protections for competition in data services to essential services like schools, libraries, ATMs, and hospitals that could raise costs to consumers. He even failed to defend the FCC’s prison phone rules in court, enabling service providers to continue price gouging families with loved ones in prison. He also proposed reducing the speed and quality of broadband that providers offer, which will exacerbate the digital divide. And finally, he added antiquated regulations back on the books by restoring the ‘UHF discount’ that allows companies like Sinclair to own more TV stations, roll back local content, and squeeze competitive voices out of the marketplace.
“Chairman Pai accomplished all of this in eight months. The rollback of consumer and pro-competition policies must stop. Access to affordable communications is essential to Americans’ daily lives, but continuing the Pai Chairmanship will lead to fewer choices and higher costs for these essential services. We encourage all Senators to vote to reject his nomination.”