Pai set to take FCC chairman seat in win for the cable industry

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While the official announcement is still pending, it now seems that conservative Commissioner Ajit Pai will take over for Tom Wheeler as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

“Been waiting official word, but congrats to my colleague, @AjitPaiFCC, being designated @FCC chairman says twitter. Great news for freedom,” tweeted Pai’s GOP peer on the five-member commission, Michael O’Rielly. 

Tweeted Wheeler himself: “Congratulations Chairman Pai.”

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With the FCC yet to pull the trigger on the official announcements, the American Cable Association (ACA) and NCTA - The Internet & Television Association (NCTA) have not yet released statements. 

But on Saturday, ACA President and CEO Matthew Polka tweeted, #TitleII #NetNeutrality opponent @AjitPaiFCC will be new @FCC head, per reports. MP: @AmericanCable…#ReadyToWork!”

RELATED: Rosenworcel sides with Pai and O'Rielly, agrees Wheeler set-top proposal is 'flawed'

Pai met with newly elected President Donald Trump last week and had been considered a heavy favorite for the top FCC post.

Besides being a staunch oppositional force against the FCC’s net neutrality regulations, Pai also stood in the way of other recent FCC regulations that were highly unpopular with the cable industry, such as the agency’s ultimately unsuccessful bid to regulate pay-TV set-top boxes. 

However, along with O’Rielly, Pai recently stated that he plans to revisit the issue of net neutrality “as soon as possible.”

A former Verizon attorney, Pai, 44, has spent the last 18 years working in Washington, also serving with the Department of Justice and the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

His selection, of course, is not popular with consumer groups that like net neutrality.

“Ajit Pai has been on the wrong side of just about every major issue that has come before the FCC during his tenure," Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron said in a statement. "He’s never met a mega-merger he didn’t like or a public safeguard he didn’t try to undermine. He’s been an inveterate opponent of net neutrality, expanded broadband access for low-income families, broadband privacy, media diversity and more."

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