FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Mocks Canceled Shows, Wants to Be Vin Scully of Regulation

Pai also says his kids watch “Sesame Street,” a show would be affected by proposed Trump Administration cuts

Ajit Pai
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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai took a swipe at two canceled TV shows during a keynote address Tuesday — and invoked the retirement of Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully to explain his hands-off approach to regulation.

After taking the stage at the National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas, Pai joked that he had never given a keynote address there before — and took his out-of-nowhere jab at the canceled shows.

“In television terms, it’s kind of like being moved from an early-morning time slot to primetime,” he said. “And with this step up comes added pressure. After all, I don’t want to be like ABC’s ‘Emily’s Reasons Why Not’ or CBS’s ‘Secret Talents of the Stars’ and get cancelled after just one episode!”

Elsewhere in the speech, Pai promised to review the “outdated” regulations currently enforced by the FCC, saying the he would “work aggressively” to modernize the commission and to “cut unnecessary red tape.” He praised Scully to say he’ll know when to stay out of the way.

“As Scully once said, ‘I try to call the play as quickly as I possibly can and let the crowd roar,” Pai said. “That’s sound advice for a regulator.  To me, there’s nothing better than the roar of America’s communications engine.  So long as I have the privilege of serving as FCC Chairman, you can be sure that I’ll do my best to get unnecessary rules out of the way so that broadcasters can rev that engine.”

He added: “The last thing broadcasting–or any industry for that matter–needs is outdated regulations standing in its way. And that’s particularly true in communications, where things change so quickly.”

Absent from Pai’s speech was any mention of net neutrality, the principle that providers should treat all content and applications equally — and not prioritize or penalize them depending on other factors. Recode reported on Monday that Pai, a longtime opponent of net neutrality, will outline his plans to roll back regulations in a speech on Wednesday.

Pai also mentioned that his children watch the public television show “Sesame Street.” Opponents of President Trump’s proposal to cut funding for public broadcasting have used the show as a symbol of the kind of public broadcasting that would be hit by the cuts.

“It’s clearer than ever that the way Americans produce and consume media today is dramatically different than it was a generation ago,” Pai said. “Indeed, as the father of a five-year-old and a three-year-old, I see this every single day.  When I was growing up, Sesame Street was a show that you watched on a television set at the same time each day.  To my children, Sesame Street is a collection of videos and apps that they can interact with on numerous devices whenever they want.”

Pai has served on the FCC since President Obama appointed him in May 2012. In January, President Trump elevated him to chairman.