New FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has announced a pilot program designed to provide more transparency at the Commission. Under the pilot program, the Commission will release the text of agenda items that will be voted on at upcoming Commission meetings “well in advance” of the meeting. This is a shift from the current practice, where the Commission releases the text of items only after they have been voted on. Chairman Pai and Commissioner O’Rielly had accused former Chairman Tom Wheeler of selectively leaking information about items on circulation among the commissioners to shape public opinion before those items became public. If successful, the program will become Commission practice. Chairman Pai touted the procedural shift as a mechanism that will allow “average Americans” the same ability to see the contents of FCC proposals and orders as was previously reserved for “[l]obbyists with inside-the-Beltway connections.”
The first two items released under this program were a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that seeks comment on television broadcasters’ use of ATSC 3.0 and a Report and Order regarding AM revitalization. Both are on the agenda for the FCC’s next Open Commission Meeting, which will be February 23, 2017.