While no official statements have been made, rumors are abound that Ajit Pai, a current Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner, will be named chairman of the FCC after Wheeler steps down on January 20th, 2017.
Wheeler was appointed chairman by President Obama and will quickly be replaced once President-Elect Trump becomes President Trump. Pai expects a more slow regulatory approach to regulations under the Trump administration saying in a recent speech that the FCC will be “…guided by evidence, sound economic analysis, and a good dose of humility” under the new leadership.
While there has been no official word yet, the most compelling evidence pointing towards the appointment of Ajit Pai came from incoming White House spokesman Sean Spicer, who confirmed that Pai met with President-elect Trump in Trump Tower on 1/16/17. It is important to note that the Senate does have to confirm the President’s nomination for chairman.
Experts expect the beginning of the new Republican-led FCC will be spent undoing much of the work the Democrat-led FCC accomplished over the last eight years. Once the dust has settled, the new conservative mantra of less regulation that Pai seems to subscribe to will become more evident. “Proof of market failure should guide the next Commission’s consideration of new regulations,” Pai told the Free State Foundation. “And the FCC should only adopt a regulation if it determines that its benefits outweigh its costs.”
Ajit Pai has served as a republican FCC commissioner since 2012. Inside Radio notes that Pai has received praise from “…broadcasters for his efforts to revitalize the AM band and a willingness to devote resources to radio-related issues.” His conservative focus and senior status as a commissioner makes him a great pick by the Trump administration.
Time will tell how effective the FCC will be under the new Trump administration. Silicon Valley players have already expresses concern over the various changes he could implement. The Wheeler FCC was integral in setting net neutrality regulations, which could be in danger if Pai steps into the chairman position.