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Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Local news groups will miss Ajit Pai when he leaves his post as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission on January 20.

Why it matters: Despite the fact that the Trump administration broadly was seen as having a hostile view towards the press, Pai was considered by several trade groups as a loyal supporter of local news.

Details: Under the Trump administration, the FCC and Chairman Pai fought to deregulate traditional media companies, including TV and radio broadcasters, and newspapers, so that they could better compete with technology giants.

  • Most notably, he ended a decades-old media cross-ownership ban between newspaper publishers and broadcasters that inhibited consolidation within the industry. (The outcome of that ban is still being debated in court.)
  • Pai was considered a champion especially for radio, which has taken a hit thanks to the rise of streaming.
  • He approved lots of consolidation, both in the wireless market through approval of the blockbuster T-Mobile-Sprint merger, and in the local broadcasting space.
  • He initially supported a merger between Sinclair Broadcasting Group and Tribune Media, but later voted to block it after was revealed that Sinclair deceived the FCC.

What they're saying: "We view Chairman Pai as a very thoughtful and forward-thinking leader for the FCC," News Media Alliance president David Chavern told Axios. 

  • "He was willing to look at the media market as it actually exists today and make clear-eyed decisions about how to foster a more vibrant system going forward."

"Chairman Pai has been a champion of free and local broadcasting since he joined the FCC," the National Association of Broadcasters said in a statement.

  • "His fair, thoughtful approach to regulation led to many common-sense reforms that were long overdue."

What's next: Republicans are expected to lose their commissioner majority at the FCC under the Biden administration.

  • Jessica Rosenworcel, the senior Democrat on the commission, is considered a leading candidate for Pai's job.
  • Rosenworcel has been an outspoken voice against many of the deregulatory measures that Pai championed.

Go deeper

Jan 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Controversial USAGM CEO Michael Pack is out

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Michael Pack, a conservative filmmaker who was nominated by Donald Trump to lead the government's foreign media arm, the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), left the agency Wednesday at the request of President Biden.

Why it matters: Pack's eight-month tenure was filled with controversy. Most recently, he was accused of fraud, as well as misuse of office. Observers and whistleblowers have alleged throughout his tenure that he was abusing his power in an attempt to transform the agency into a pro-Trump propaganda arm.

1 hour ago - World

Army to award Purple Hearts to troops injured in Iran missile attack

Damage at Ain al-Asad military airbase housing U.S. and other foreign troops in the western Iraqi province of Anbar in January 2020. Photo: Ayman Henna/AFP via Getty Images

The Army has approved 39 more Purple Hearts for U.S. soldiers wounded in an Iranian military ballistic missile attack on an Iraq base in January 2020, the Army Times first reported Wednesday.

Why it matters: Most of these soldiers sustained brain injuries, per the Army Times. Then-President Trump dismissed their injuries at the time as "headaches" and "not very serious," sparking backlash from some veterans groups.

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.