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Pai Tells Broadcasters: More Modernization On the Way

LAS VEGAS--FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told broadcasters Tuesday that 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that rules should match the modern marketplace, that broadcast service should be extended to more communities and that outdated regulations should be scrapped.

At the “We Are Broadcasters Celebration,” Pai walked on the stage to a standing ovation. He began by touting 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.”

“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 more applause.

At the event, Pai 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.

The chairman also announced he shared a proposal with his colleagues to update FCC rules on translator interference. This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking follows up on a petition for rulemaking filed by NAB that would, among other things, allow FM translator stations to resolve interference by moving to any available frequency using a minor modification application.

[Read: Pai Says Puerto Rico Fund Will Not Benefit Broadcasters]

The chairman finalized his speech by saying that the dominant theme of the past year for broadcasters has been their role as first informers. Pai 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.

The event combined the Crystal Radio Awards, the Engineering Achievement Awards and NAB TV Chairman’s Award into one event. Actress Kristen Bell was honored with the Chairman’s Award while the Television Engineering Achievement Award was awarded to Mark Aitken, vice president of advanced technology at Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Susan Ashworth

Susan Ashworth is the former editor of TV Technology. In addition to her work covering the broadcast television industry, she has served as editor of two housing finance magazines and written about topics as varied as education, radio, chess, music and sports. Outside of her life as a writer, she recently served as president of a local nonprofit organization supporting girls in baseball.