Commissioners Ajit Pai and Mignon Clyburn agree that the FCC
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 and
Telecom Council's Broadband and Social Justice Policy Summit in Washington on 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 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
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 descent -- 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 descent about how
inspiring it was to see someone of their heritage in a top government position.