As new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai moved on Friday to roll back a number of FCC actions put in place by his predecessor, the remaining Democrat on the commission, Mignon Clyburn, blasted Pai for engaging in what she characterized as a “Friday news dump” that falls short of “reasoned decision-making.”
Clyburn’s comments come as Pai, with a new 2-1 Republican majority on the commission, rescinded a number of regulations. FCC bureaus made a number of changes on Friday, including the cancellation of an inquiry into wireless firms’ use of “zero-rating” services. The FCC’s media bureau on Friday also rescinded more stringent guidelines for broadcast stations in the same market that jointly sell advertising time, and sidelined the prior greenlight given to nine companies to participate in a program to provide low-cost Internet service to low-income families.
In a statement, Clyburn said that “today is apparently ‘take out the trash day.'”
“In an eponymous episode of the ‘West Wing,’ White House Chief of Staff Josh Lyman stated: ‘Any stories we have to give the press that we’re not wild about, we give all in a lump on Friday. … Because no one reads the paper on Saturday.'”
She said that Pai had been critical of the Democratic majority for “not providing sufficient reasoning behind its decisions,” but “that is exactly what multiple bureaus have done today.”
“The bureaus rescind prior bureau actions by simply citing a rule that allows them to do so, when in prior invocations of that rule there have been oft-lengthy explanations for the reasoning behind the actions,” she said.
She said that her office requested “more than the allotted two days to review the dozen items released today,” but were rebuffed.
In his own statement, Pai said that in the waning days of Wheeler’s tenure, the FCC “released a series of controversial orders and reports.”
“In some cases, commissioners were given no advance notice whatsoever of these midnight regulations,” Pai said. “In other cases, they were issued over the objection of two of the four commissioners. And in all cases, their release ran contrary to the wishes expressed by the leadership of our congressional oversight committees. These last-minute actions, which did not enjoy the support of the majority of commissioners at the time they were taken, should not bind us going forward. Accordingly, they are being revoked.”
Clyburn served as acting FCC chair in 2013, before Wheeler was confirmed to the post.