NAB: FCC Chairman Recommits to Modernizing Media Rules

"Most of these rules were written during the analog era," Ajit Pai said Tuesday at NAB Show.
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Ajit Pai

FCC chairman Ajit Pai — who was appointed to his role in January 2017 — on Tuesday emphasized his aim to "modernize" the nation's media rules during an address at NAB Show in Las Vegas. “That’s required a lot of work,” he said of several decisions that have been welcomed by broadcasters, “for most of these rules were written during the analog era.”

Pai cited as an example that last year the FCC ended the decades-old newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership ban. “With the proliferation of online news sources, cable TV and more, the idea that a company could dominate a media market by owning a broadcast station and a newspaper is utter nonsense," he asserted.

Pai also reminded the crowd that a year ago at NAB Show, he promised a review of media regulations to identify those that should be revised or repealed. “We’ve already launched eight separate rulemakings as a result of this effort, and we’ll start more in the coming months,” he said. “In particular, [FCC] Commissioner [Michael] O’Rielly is now leading an effort to update our children’s television rules so that they better reflect the way that kids watch video these days.”

Pai additionally restated a commitment to letting broadcasters innovate with the recent adoption of the Next Gen TV transmission standard, known as ATSC 3.0, which supports capabilities such as 4K, HDR, mobility and new emergency services. “By allowing use of this standard on a voluntary, market-driven basis, we’ve opened the door to a substantially improved, free, over-the-air television broadcast service and fiercer competition in the video marketplace," he said.

During the Tuesday session, actress Kristen Bell was honored with the TV Chairman's Award. She was unable to attend the ceremony, but accepted the honor via a recorded video message.

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