Sioux Falls, SD
Federal Communications Commissioners don't often make their way to Sioux Falls, but after accepting an invite from Senator John Thune, Ajit Pai is making the most of his trip to KELOLAND.
After seeing how small businesses in Sioux Falls use the internet to attract new customers and create jobs, Pai, who is one of only five FCC commissioners, came to KELOLAND-TV for a tour of the station.
"Local news really does matter quite a bit and some of these local broadcasters like KELO are the only ones who are going to be able to compile information and supply it to the viewers. That's something we need to take into account when we adopt our policies regarding broadcast news," Pai said.
Pai, a Republican appointed by the President, and the FCC are in charge of regulating the entire communications industry. A Midwest native, the commissioner has a personal interest in making sure all cities, regardless of size, are connected.
"I want to make sure that people in Sioux Falls and from a lot of the smaller towns across South Dakota have the same access to the wireless networks that people in big cities do. That's a critical differentiator because if people can't get those services in rural America, they'll probably move to the bigger cities outside South Dakota to get it," Pai said.
As for the controversial net neutrality policy the FCC is wrestling with, which requires all internet service providers to treat all data the same, Pai favors a system that features a light regulatory touch. He wants to give the private sector all the incentives possible to keep providers growing.
"For the FCC to take a heavy-handed, generalized, interventionist look at the industry, I think it's something that would harm consumers in the end," Pai said.
The FCC is currently taking comments on how to protect an open internet.
Watch the full interview by clicking on the play button below.