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Posts Categorised: Ajit Pai

He is a longtime Democratic official and former Obama administration appointee



Geoffrey Starks

WASHINGTON — As expected, the White House has named FCC Enforcement Bureau official Geoffrey Starks to succeed Mignon Clyburn as Democratic FCC Commissioner.

The White House has signaled its intention to nominate Starks to the seat currently held by Democrat Mignon Clyburn, FCC chairman Ajit Pai has confirmed.

This White House has hardly treated convention with kid gloves, but traditionally, at least since President Bill Clinton, the Democratic pick for the FCC comes from the Senate minority leader, which was the case here, with Starks the pick of Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Starks is currently in the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, which is not a typical launching pad for a commission seat, like, say, a Hill communications counsel would be, though the most recent Republican addition, Brendan Carr, came directly from the FCC as well.

“I congratulate Geoffrey Starks on his forthcoming nomination to serve as a Commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission,” said Pai in a statement. “He has a distinguished record of public service, including in the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, and I wish him all the best during the confirmation process.”

That will be a hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee, then a vote in the full Senate.

“NAB strongly supports President Trump’s selection of Geoffrey Starks to a seat on the Federal Communications Commission,” said National Association of Broadcasters President Gordon Smith. We endorse his swift confirmation.”

Starks has an impressive Democratic résumé.

He is currently assistant bureau chief at the FCC and is focused on “closing the digital divide by bringing more broadband to underserved communities; building transformational 5G infrastructure to help deliver the largest wireless platform for innovation in the world; and advancing broadband telemedicine programs to improve access to quality medical services and health outcomes.”

Starks has an undergraduate degree from Harvard and a law degree from Yale. He also founded a community bank.

Like FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, he grew up in Kansas, though in the city rather than a small town.

His wife is Lauren Thompson Starks, a former Obama appointee. Starks is also a former staffer to then Sen. Barack Obama and a former attorney with Williams & Connolly in Washington.

His Obama-era government service includes serving under Attorney General Eric Holder at Justice, including as the lead on financial and healthcare fraud.

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Broadcasters are not the only group lamenting potential changes to the 3.7-4.2 GHz spectrum

WASHINGTON — Radio broadcasters are not the only group lamenting proposed changes to the 3.7-4.2 GHz “C Band.”

Comcast executives recently met with FCC officials to discuss the critical role C-band satellite transmissions play in the video distribution ecosystem generally and for Comcast and NBCUniversal in particular. Comcast said it uses “hundreds of C-band earth stations at locations throughout the country, and about 80% of video programming is received by Comcast via C-band satellites,” according to fiercewireless.com .

In 2017 the FCC agreed to explore repurposing more mid-band spectrum (including the 3.7-4.2 GHz), and in the meantime, satellite companies using the have proposed a way to make 100 MHz available for 5G, but “terrestrial players say that’s not enough…and it sounds like the leadership at the FCC agrees with the terrestrial folks,” according to the same article. 

FCC Chairman Pai announced at the end of May that he’s ready to put a 3.7-4.2 GHz item on the FCC’s July open meeting agenda. “At the FCC’s July meeting, I intend to put up for a vote a proposal to make more intensive use of that 500 MHz of spectrum, including seeking additional input on making it available for commercial terrestrial use,” Pai said.

Keep reading Radio Magazine Today to be informed on pending changes to the C Band. 

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FCC chairman says he wants to make more “intensive” use of midband spectrum

WASHINGTON — The FCC will vote at its July public meeting on a proposal to make more “intensive” use of 500 MHz of midband spectrum in the 3.7-4.2 GHz (C-band).

That is according to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai , who announced the planned vote at the Wireless Infrastructure Association’s Connect Expo in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday (May 23).

Cable operators use that band for thousands of receive-only earth stations.

That comes after the FCC earlier this month asked for input on how to repurpose C-band spectrum, seeking comment on a report it must prepare for Congress, mandated by the Making Opportunities for Broadband Investment and Limiting Excessive and Needless Obstacles to Wireless Act (Mobile Now Act).

“I’ve got some good news to report on the mid-band front,” Pai told the WIA audience. “Last year, the FCC agreed to explore repurposing more mid-band spectrum, including the 3.7 to 4.2 GHz band, commonly called the ‘C band.’ We have done a lot of work on this issue in the time since—enough so that I’m pleased to announce today that at the FCC’s July meeting, I intend to put up for a vote a proposal to make more intensive use of that 500 MHz of spectrum, including seeking additional input on making it available for commercial terrestrial use.”

The chairman also said that, “when it comes to low-band spectrum,” the post-incentive auction transition process for that 600 MHz spectrum is going “very well indeed.” That includes the biggest auction winner, T-Mobile, already using its spectrum — it has paid some broadcasters who gave up spectrum in the auction to move off early — to provide mobile broadband in 28 states.

In August 2017, the FCC launched a notice of inquiry into ‘next-generation’ opportunities for use of “mid-band spectrum” — seeking to explore “all potential options to meet the ever-increasing demands” for wireless bandwidth. The NOI sought comment on three specific mid-range bands (3.7-4.2 GHz, as well as 5.925-6.425 GHz and 6.425-7.125 GHz).

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Current process is “nasty, brutish and long,” FCC Chair Ajit Pai says

WASHINGTON — A new rulemaking proposed by the Federal Communications Commission would help to streamline and modify FM translator interference complaint and remediation procedures.

At its Open Meeting on May 10, the commission released a proposal that would provide greater certainty to full-power stations regarding complaint requirements, limit contentious factual disputes, and ensure prompt and consistent relief from actual translator interference, the FCC said in a release .

“Today the chair brings forth an appropriate solution with more effective process for handling legitimate complaints,” said Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, referencing the fact that the of licensed FM translators has increased from 1,850 in 1990 to more than 7,500 in 2017 — with more to come. “[I] hope to hear from stakeholders on whether or not this will adequately address the rise in interference concerns due to the successful [AM Revitalization] proceeding.”

Added Chairman Ajit Pai: “The current process for resolving such interference complaints can be nasty, brutish and long. That’s why we aim to streamline and expedite it,” he said. “These measures would provide more certainty to translator stations and full-service FM stations alike. And in many cases, they would eliminate the need for further remediation measures, resolving interference complaints more quickly.

The notice proposes that translators be given greater flexibility to move to another available frequency in the case of interference and that the rules be clarified and standardized when it comes to complaint requirements. The notice also suggests that proposed technical criteria should be used to assess actual and predicted interference, and that an outer distance limit should be created beyond which interference complaints would not be actionable.

In response to the notice, the National Association of Broadcasters said it is grateful the FCC is considering new policies. 

“[These] will extend local radio service through the use of translators while protecting the existing service of FM broadcasters,” said NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton.Comments can be left at the FCC ECFS database using Media Bureau docket number 18-119.

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Almost all of the information about radio and TV stations is now available online

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission has unanimously voted to propose eliminating rules requiring the posting of broadcast licenses, as well as ownership and contact information, in specific physical locations.

That is because the rules date back most of a hundred years — they were adopted in 1930 — and almost all the info is now available online.

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said he had seen such information literally taped to the walls on a recent visit to broadcast facilities at One World Trade Center in New York and had the picture to prove it.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai pointed out that no rationale was ever laid out for these posting rules in the first place.

The chairman also said the FCC had to take a fine tooth comb on the rulebook to find all the related rules and thanked the staff for wielding those combs.

It is the 10th dereg item in the chairman’s regulatory modernization efforts, not to be confused with major deregulatory weed-whacking like net neutrality and broadcast ownership reg rollbacks. 

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Chairman Ajit Pai previewed the May 10 agenda in a blog post this week

WASHINGTON — As is his tradition, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai previewed the agenda for the commission’s May 10 meeting in a Medium blog post Wednesday.

Pai announced the 10th rulemaking for his Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative. He proposes to eliminate the requirements that mandate “broadcasters to physically display or maintain their licenses and related information in specific locations.” He says this is redundant because of the commission’s electronic databases, and wants this rule to go the way of physical cable channel lineups and hardcopies of the FCC’s rules.

Another item the commission will tackle is how “to mitigate any interference caused by the expanded use of FM translators.” Pai says his “proposal: (1) would allow translator stations to resolve interference by moving to any available same-band channel using a minor modification application; and (2) would require a minimum number of legitimate complaints to support any interference claim.”

[Some of this material will be review for NAB Show attendees; Pai addressed the We Are Broadcasters Celebration last week .]

Pai also writes, “I’m proposing to provide greater flexibility to current EBS [Educational Broadband Service] licensees to freely use and transfer their spectrum.” Pai says this will “allow more efficient and effective use of” the 2.5 GHz band, much of which is currently unused.

Finally, May 10 will include “a Hearing Designation Order and an enforcement item,” details of which cannot be revealed until the meeting.

He also highlighted Commissioner Mignon Clyburn’s career at the commission, calling her “a tremendous leader” and emphasizing her work on “telehealth, media diversity and digital inclusion.” Pai said “I’ve enjoyed working with her and, even when we have not seen eye-to-eye on policy, I’ve always held her candor and thoughtfulness in the highest regard.”

Pai concludes: “One of the great joys of my job is having the privilege of meeting people from all across the country and hearing their stories. These interactions inform our work and inspire me to keep pushing ahead.”

UPDATE: The commission has released an FCC Fact Sheet laying out the details of the proposed amendment of Part 74 of the commission’s rules regarding FM translator interference. Read it online here.

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Current policy has prompted battles between translator operators and full-power stations over whether complaints have come from real listeners, as opposed to listeners that are somehow associated with the full-power stations

WASHINGTON — In his recent speech at NAB Show, FCC Chairman Pai announced that there is a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking being considered by the FCC commissioners regarding the way in which complaints about interference to full-power stations from translators would be handled, according to David Oxenford in a recent broadcastlawblog.com entry.

Now, a single complaint from a regular listener to a full-power FM station, even if that listener is outside of the full-power station’s protected contour, is enough to shut down the new translator if the translator licensee cannot resolve that complaint. This policy has prompted battles between translator operators and full-power stations over whether such complaints have come from real listeners, suffering through real interference, as opposed to listeners that are somehow associated with the full-power stations and prompted to make complaints in order to take advantage of the commission’s policy.

“Last year, the NAB proposed a number of fixes to the policy – suggesting that more than one complaint should be required to prove true interference and that, if interference is found, that the translator be allowed to relocate to any available channel on the FM band to remediate that interference, not just to adjacent channels as a “minor change” as currently required,” writes Oxenford. “It is anticipated that the FCC’s proposed rulemaking will contain some of the NAB’s suggestions.”

Those suggestions include:

  • Translators that receive interference complaints should be allowed to move to any vacant FM channel to operate, not just to channels adjacent to their current operations
  • Interference reports should be supported by at least six instances, with the complaining parties identified to insure that they are unaffiliated with the station allegedly receiving interference
  • The station receiving interference should identify, with specificity, when and where the alleged interference is taking place
  • The NAB also proposes interference should be judged by “on/off” tests of the translator

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Pai is circulating a petition on ways to better resolve translator station interference


LAS VEGAS — More modernization efforts are coming out of the offices of the Federal Communications Commission, according to Chairman Ajit Pai during an NAB Show event on Tuesday.

At the “We Are Broadcasters Celebration,” the chairman announced he shared a proposal with his colleagues to update FCC rules on translator interference. This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking follows on a petition for rulemaking filed by NAB that would, among other things, allow translator stations to resolve interference by moving to any available frequency using a minor modification application and require a minimum number of interference complaints to support any interference claim.

The goal, Pai said, is to simplify and expedite the complaint process.

Pai also announced that the FCC would soon open a special displacement window for LPTV and translator stations who need to move to new channels as a result of the incentive auction. Congress previously authorized the commission to reimburse LPTVs and translators as well as FM radio stations as part of this reorganization process.

During the session, Pai touched on the other ways the FCC is focused on radio broadcasters, including the recent efforts the commission has made to combat pirate radio. Starting from January 2017, Pai said, the Enforcement Bureau has undertaken 306 pirate-radio investigations and has issued 210 Notices of Unlicensed Operation, a 101% increase in pirate enforcement compared to the previous year. Last year the FCC also began last year holding property owners liable for supporting pirate activity on their property.

During the session Pai also touted the different ways in which broadcasters have supported local communities, and said he believes the FCC’s job is “to create a regulatory environment that enables you to keep doing great work like this. A big part of that is modernizing our media rules to match the marketplace and technology of today.”

Each of the decisions the FCC has made under his tenure follows what he called “a basic philosophical choice about moving forward or looking backward. And on each, we’ve made the right choice — for broadcasters and consumers alike,” he said, saying that broadcasters should be allowed to innovate, that rules should match the modern marketplace, that broadcast service should be extended to more communities and that outdated regulations should be scrapped.

“When you look at all of our media decisions together, the larger picture becomes clear: we are simply allowing any and every broadcaster the ability to compete in a free market, unshackled by regulations that no longer make sense,” Pai said to applause.

The chairman also touted the way that broadcasters serve their community at this new session, which combined the NAB TV Chairman’s Award, Crystal Radio Awards and Engineering Achievement Awards into one event.

“If there has been a dominant theme of the past year for broadcasters, I would say it’s been your role as first informers,” Pai said. He pointed to broadcast stations in the mainland U.S. that have embraced public health issues and charity efforts as well as stations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who served as first informers during the 2017 hurricane season.

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Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioners O’Rielly, Carr and Rosenworcel will participate in different four sessions

WASHINGTON — At this year’s NAB Show , the Federal Communications Commission will be out in full strength. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioners Michael O’Rielly, Brendan Carr and Jessica Rosenworcel will participate in four separate sessions, April 7 – 12 in Las Vegas. Commissioner Mignon Clyburn is not scheduled to attend.

[Read: House Energy & Commerce Committee Chair to Headline NAB Show]

Chairman Pai will deliver remarks at the “We Are Broadcasters Celebration” Tuesday, April 10, 3–4:15 p.m. The new event celebrates local radio and TV stations’ role in communities and “commitment to innovation that enables broadcasters to better serve listeners and viewers,” according to the announcement.

Designated chairman by President Donald Trump in January 2017, Pai had previously served as commissioner at the FCC, appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate in May 2012.

Remember that Pai notably canceled an appearance at January’s CES, reportedly after threats to his safety over his position on Net Neutrality.

Commissioners O’Rielly, Carr and Rosenworcel will address three sessions within the NAB Show Business of Broadcast Conference , April 8–11, including a Law and Policy Q&A with the FCC and Capitol Hill, which is open to NAB members only.

View the 5 images of this gallery on the original article

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The FCC chair has proposed $954M to help fix comms networks there, but critics aren’t happy with his efforts

SAN JUAN — 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:

Pai answered:

The internet, apparently, was not pleased by this response. A flurry of GIFs, sarcastic comments and other, more aggressive, replies followed.

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. 

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