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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

FCC chairman to depart in January

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Ajit Pai will leave his post as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission on Jan. 20, the agency said today.

Why it matters: Pai's Inauguration Day departure is in keeping with agency tradition, and could set up the Biden administration with a 2-1 Democratic majority at the FCC if the Senate fails to confirm another Trump nominee during the lame-duck period.

Stalemate over filibuster freezes Congress

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell's inability to quickly strike a deal on a power-sharing agreement in the new 50-50 Congress is slowing down everything from the confirmation of President Biden's nominees to Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: Whatever final stance Schumer takes on the stalemate, which largely comes down to Democrats wanting to use the legislative filibuster as leverage over Republicans, will be a signal of the level of hardball we should expect Democrats to play with Republicans in the new Senate.

Dave Lawler, author of World
35 mins ago - World

Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

Putin at a military parade. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty

President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.