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Susan Walsh / AP

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai talked to CNBC today about his view of light-touch regulation and a possible Sprint-T-Mobile merger, among other things.

What it means: Pai has said he favors net neutrality rules in principle but disagrees with what he sees as a heavy-handed regulatory approach (i.e., Title II) that his predecessor took. He continues to be vague about the next steps the FCC will take and how it will fit into congressional plans.

Excerpts below:

  • On rolling back net neutrality rules: "I think the end goal is to preserve the free and open internet that we had for two decades, starting in the Clinton administration... For two decades the proof was in the pudding that the consumer was best served with light-touch regulation, and I think that's the end result that we're hoping to achieve." He added he'll assist congress in their legislative efforts on the issue.
  • Broadband as part of infrastructure package: He touted his idea for "gigabit opportunity zones to give the private sector the maximum incentive to deploy in low income, rural and urban areas."
  • On potential Sprint-T-Mobile merger: Pai said he couldn't make predictions, but that the marketplace is currently "extremely competitive." He added: "We'd have to look at a particular transaction and the particular facts in order to make a determination, but at the end of the day, our goal is to meet the public interest."
  • On light-touch regulation: He said he favors broad regulatory frameworks to protect consumers, but not micromanaging how companies operate if there isn't a market failure ."My own view is that the internet should be run by technologists and engineers and businesspeople. Not by lawyers and bureaucrats here in the nation's capital."

Go deeper

Justice Department drops insider trading inquiry against Sen. Richard Burr

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) walking through the Senate Subway in the U.S. Capitol in December 2020. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Department of Justice told Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Tuesday that it will not move forward with insider trading charges against him.

Why it matters: The decision, first reported by the New York Times, effectively ends the DOJ's investigation into the senator's stock sell-off that occurred after multiple lawmakers were briefed about the coronavirus' potential economic toll. Burr subsequently stepped down as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Netflix tops 200 million global subscribers

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Netflix said that it added another 8.5 million global subscribers last quarter, bringing its total number of paid subscribers globally to more than 200 million.

The big picture: Positive fourth-quarter results show Netflix's resiliency, despite increased competition and pandemic-related production headwinds.

Janet Yellen plays down debt, tax hike concerns in confirmation hearing

Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen at an event in December. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Janet Yellen, Biden's pick to lead the Treasury Department, pushed back against two key concerns from Republican senators at her confirmation hearing on Tuesday: the country's debt and the incoming administration's plans to eventually raise taxes.

Driving the news: Yellen — who's expected to win confirmation — said spending big now will prevent the U.S. from having to dig out of a deeper hole later. She also said the Biden administration's priority right now is coronavirus relief, not raising taxes.

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