Pai, Clyburn Agree FCC Needs To Do More On Diversity

Clyburn Sees Hope in Diversity Questions Raised in Incentive Auction Proposal

FCC commissioners Ajit Pai and Mignon Clyburn agree that the agency needs to move on a variety of diversity initiatives.

Clyburn said there was hope for progress in some of the suggestions teed up in the incentive auction proposal, while Pai made a pitch for a couple of proposals.

The commissioners were addressing the Minority Media & Telecom Council's Broadband and Social Justice Policy Summit in Washington Thursday.

Clyburn said that as a child of the Civil Rights movement, "proposals that we know are right often seem to take a lifetime to come to fruition." She said there were glimmers of hope in the FCC's seeking comment on a small business credit for participation in the broadcast side of the incentive auction, and proposals to address diversity in the wireless space of the forward auction. Pai added that he hoped there would be a "flowering" of diversity on the wireless side.

Pai also put in a plug for loosening the restrictions on foreign ownership. He said it didn't make sense for a foreign entity to be able to invest billions in a U.S. wireless company, while they could not in a broadcaster--if that investment exceeded a 25% stake--particularly given minority broadcasters' need for access to more capital.

"While I cannot sit here and say I am pleased about the pace of change," said Clyburn, "I will say I think we have a series of incredible opportunities going forward,” she said, adding: “We’ll get there.”

At the end of the discussion, moderator and former FCC Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate called both commissioners--the first African American woman on the FCC and its first member of Indian decent--examples of the American dream. She also shared a conversation she had had with Pai in which he revealed he had been hearing from children of Indian decent about how inspiring it was to see someone of their heritage in a top government position.