FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has answered a question that broadcasters likely had on their mind. Unfortunately, the answer is “no.”
On Tuesday, Pai had “proposed to direct $954 million toward restoring and expanding communications networks in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands” in the aftermath of the 2017 hurricane season. The initiatives are dubbed the “Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund” (Bringing Puerto Rico Together Fund) and “Connect USVI Fund Would Improve Connectivity for Residents “
The chairman’s trip to Puerto Rico and the proposal were not entirely well received. One particularly critical article came from the Register: “April Fool: FCC finally bothers with Puerto Rico as chairman visits.” Yikes.
On Thursday, Pai tweeted a photo of a San Juan sunrise with a seemingly innocuous caption detailing his itinerary — and got more than he bargained for.
Things got interesting when Juan Carlos Pedreira — a tech reporter for Univision in Miami who also has a J.D. — tweeted a question in reply:
Does the FCC assigned funds to Puerto Rico also includes broadcast facilities? Or only fixed and wireless carriers?
— Juan Carlos Pedreira (@juancpedreira) March 8, 2018
I recognize the tremendous job broadcasters do during emergencies, esp. in #PuertoRico. Unfortunately, under the law, our Universal Service Fund only can be applied to fixed/mobile broadband services. https://t.co/5Wvl3RmhAq
— Ajit Pai (@AjitPaiFCC) March 8, 2018
[Related: “FCC Chair Plans Travel to Puerto Rico, USVI” ]
The internet, apparently, was not pleased by this response. A flurry of GIFs, sarcastic comments and other, more aggressive, replies followed.
— C L I N T (@ClutchCS2) March 8, 2018
When you say you go in to fix something to help out you go in to fix it.
Not just the elements of specific companies so they can make money on the island again…
People like you really need to move over for someone actually qualified for this job.
— Roland (@AbsorbUnderwear) March 8, 2018
This was not Pai’s first foray into the world of controversy. The chairman is active on social media, and Twitter has been a favorite platform for citizens to air their grievances over Pai’s position on Net Neutrality and other issues.
Pai leaves the island Friday and travels to the US Virgin Islands.