Today's vote relaxes the rules to permit NCEs to devote up to one percent of their annual airtime to fundraising for third-party organizations that qualify as tax-exempt non-profits under Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, without having to first seek a waiver from the FCC.
Pai and the FCC's other Republican, Michael O'Rielly, opposed the 2016 change, arguing it was unlawful to alter the way the cap limits were calculated.
Not a surprise in the current deregulatory climate, but the FCC released a statement on Thursday saying there is "substantial and growing competition in the market for business data services", and therefore it is easing "outdated pricing rules to enable continued robust growth in the market".
Pai said the UHF discount and the cap were "inextricably linked" and it made no sense to change one without considering a change to the other.
David L. Cohen, senior EVP and chief diversity officer at Comcast commented that he views the FCC's action as a positive step toward ensuring continued investment in new broadband facilities, driving economic growth, and creating jobs.
The new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican appointed by President Trump, had argued that regulating prices in the market threatens competition and investment.
WASHINGTON-The UHF discount is back, the national audience reach cap is on the table, noncommercial TV stations can do third-party fundraisers and the members of their governing boards can keep their private data to themselves.
"That doesn't happen in free markets with competitive choice". "The UHF Loophole is unfair to the public because it treats UHF stations differently only for one objective - to let big station conglomerates own more stations across the country". The FCC majority eliminated price restraints on Business Data Services (BDS), allowing incumbent carriers to charge exorbitant rates on small businesses across the country.
He said that the FCC would start just such a proceeding later this year.
"Price regulation, which is the government setting the rates, terms and conditions for special access, is seductive", Pai said.
CenturyLink praised Thursday's decision as something that aligned regulations with "competitive market realities".
The proposed change, which has the support of all three commissioners at the agency, also has been praised by upstart internet service providers that have had trouble gaining access to utility poles in areas dominated by major networks.
Under this plan, the order will address two main issues: 50% of the buildings in a county are within a half-mile of a location served by a competitive provider and that 75% of the census blocks in a county have a cable provider present. Asked by a reporter why he brought up her votes, the chmn said he was making the point that "to get a complete picture of what actually portends consolidation, it's useful to look at the past..."
"Instead of taking action to promote competition and deployment, serve the public interest, and prevent the exercise of market power that is a drag on the USA economy, Chairman Pai and Commissioner O'Reilly have approved an Order that doubles down on incumbent market power, forcing businesses, hospitals, schools, and ultimately consumers to pay more for essential connectivity".