On the heels of declaring April 20th the start of Infrastructure Month at the Federal Communications Commission, and convening the inaugural meeting of the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced his intent to establish the Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment.
In 2003, then FCC Chairman Michael Powell chartered the Commission’s first Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age. That body remained in tact for 10 years, culminating its activities during the tenure of Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn. Tom Wheeler, who served as FCC Chairman from November 2013 until January 2017 did not re-charter the Committee. During its initial operation, the FCC Diversity Committee produced an unprecedented four-dozen policy recommendations aimed at ensuring the full participation of all Americans in technologies that comprise one-sixth of our national economy.
“By chartering a new advisory committee on diversity, and expanding its jurisdiction to encompass closing the digital divide, Chairman Pai has brought the FCC back to its historic and nonpartisan public interest mission,” said Kim Keenan, President and CEO of the Multicultural Media Telecom and Internet Council. “MMTC is especially pleased that the new committee will be charged with the tasks of developing a media incubator program as well as providing solutions to the vexing moral issue of telecom redlining. This is a defining step toward closing the digital divide for every American.”
In its new form, the FCC Diversity Committee will be tasked with “providing recommendations to the FCC on empowering all Americans. For example, the Committee could help the FCC promote diversity in the communications industry by assisting in the establishment of an incubator program and could identify ways to combat digital redlining.” As studies have shown, diversity is not just a good moral imperative, it’s good for businesses and the economy as well. Re-chartering the FCC’s Diversity Committee demonstrates Chairman Pai’s understanding that meaningful diversity and inclusion in and around the tech/telecom ecosystem helps increase competition, spurs innovation, and provides more choices for consumers with more choices.
“Every American should have the opportunity to participate in the communications marketplace, no matter their race, gender, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. In order to help the FCC advance that goal, I am pleased to announce that I intend to establish the Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment,” said Chairman Pai.
While he’s only been Chairman for three months, Ajit Pai is demonstrating a commitment to digital equity by promoting FCC policy frameworks that level the playing field in what has become an increasingly converged digital economy.