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Pai leads unanimous vote eliminating 2 public inspection file rules

Ajit Pai's first open meeting as FCC chairman began with a unanimous 3-0 vote to eliminate two public inspection file rules.

The FCC's inspection file rules govern what information TV and radio stations, cable television systems, direct broadcast satellite providers and satellite radio providers must store as paper files in the public interest. The first rule eliminated Jan. 31 required commercial broadcast stations to keep paper copies of letters and emails from viewers and listeners in their public inspection file. The second required cable operators to reveal the location of their cable system's principal headend, which is a facility that receives and distributes communication signals.

At the meeting, Pai said there was "no legitimate need for the public to know the location of the cable system's principal headend." He added, however, that the order still requires cable operators to provide principal headend location information to the FCC and broadcasters.

"This reduces regulatory burdens on commercial broadcasters and cable operators without adversely affecting the public interest," the Republican chairman said.

Democratic FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn agreed, saying, "Through the commission's bipartisan adoption of this item, I believe we have struck an appropriate balance of eliminating outdated regulatory requirements while ensuring … the public's right to transparency, protecting consumer privacy and addressing security concerns."

In other news, Pai announced the formation of the broadband deployment advisory committee, which will aim to identify regulatory barriers to broadband deployment and investment and then make recommendations to the FCC on removing them. The committee will also draft for consideration a model code for broadband deployment that will cover topics like local franchising, zoning, permits and rights-of-way regulation.

"Many localities that have a strong interest in promoting a digital economy within their borders may not have the resources or expertise to develop and implement deployment-friendly policies," Pai said. "Our hope is that with a model code approved by the FCC, one that any city could use as a template, the case for broadband deployment would be much easier, especially for communities that seek to proactively encourage it."