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Pai’s List of Radio Rule Changes Has Grown Long

Chairman highlights continuing efforts on “modernization of media regulations”

Regulation concept image Getty Images
Getty Images PashaIgnatov

The list of rules affecting U.S. radio stations that have been eliminated or modified under FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has gotten quite long.

Pai released an update to his rolling list of commission accomplishments since he took the chair in 2017. His latest summary is posted here.

He updates this list periodically, and it covers many industry sectors. Certainly it is not an impartial report card; and certainly some of the accomplishments are the result of work that started before Pai took the chair.

But a perusal of the 14-page document with an eye on radio interests offers a reminder of just how many processes touching broadcasters have been killed or revised under Pai, who considers such elimination and streamlining to be a major part of his mission.

His tally now includes the elimination of rules about: paper filing of contracts, keeping paper copies of FCC rules, public inspection of paper files, license display, EOO mid-term reports, radio duplication, common antenna siting, broadcast application public notices, and the biggie for station owners, the requirement to maintain a main studio in a station’s city of license.

Also making Pai’s list are updates or streamlining to FM translator interference processes, low-power FM technical rules, NCE FM comparative selection procedures, and third-party fundraising for non-profit broadcasters.

And he lists actions involving pirate radio, EAS improvements and the creation of Blue Alerts.

Pai is a Republican who was appointed by President Obama and designated chairman by President Trump.

He updated his list in connection with Thursday testimony to an FCC oversight hearing of the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee.

He doesn’t mention radio in the prepared testimony but, speaking more broadly, he highlighted commission efforts on “prioritizing bridging the digital divide, promoting innovation and investment, protecting consumers and enforcing the law, eliminating and modernizing outdated regulations, enhancing public safety, and addressing transparency and process reforms.”

He said that at 44 open meetings, the FCC has voted and adopted 260 items, “more than double the previous administration over the same time period.”

And he mentions the C Band migration, saying the FCC is “on track to commence an auction of 280 megahertz of mid-band spectrum from 3.7–3.98 GHz beginning Dec.8. Our efforts to make this critical spectrum available for 5G have been going very well. … Getting this essential spectrum out years ahead of schedule will promote American leadership in 5G, faster and more reliable wireless broadband connectivity for consumers, and the creation of millions of jobs, billions of dollars in investment, and stronger economic growth.”