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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Backs Out of a Planned Appearance at CES

January 4, 2018, 4:18 PM UTC
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Ajit Pai testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee's Privacy, Technology and the Law Subcommittee hearing on "Examining the Proposed FCC Privacy Rules" on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on May 11, 2016. / AFP / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo credit: NICHOLAS KAMM AFP/Getty Images

Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has cancelled his upcoming appearance at CES, less than one week before the international consumer electronics trade show gets underway in Las Vegas.

Pai was scheduled to take part in a “candid conversation” alongside the FTC’s acting chairwoman Maureen Ohlhausen. Show organizers did not disclose a reason for the sudden cancellation.

“Unfortunately, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is unable to attend CES 2018,” the Consumer Technology Association said in a statement. “We look forward to our next opportunity to host a technology policy discussion with him before a public audience.”

While Pai’s policies, particularly the recent reversal of 2015 net neutrality rules, are exceedingly unpopular amongst many CES exhibitors and attendees, his panel was set to be moderated by Consumer Technology Association president Gary Shapiro, who supported the FCC’s decision to scrap rules that regulated broadband companies.

Three other FCC commissioners — Brendan Carr, Michael O’Rielly, and Mignon Clyburn — are scheduled to attend a separate panel previewing the 2018 regulatory environment. But Pai’s decision is curious. He has attended the past six CES shows and his predecessor, Tom Wheeler, attended frequently as well.