Pai cancels CES appearance due to government shutdown

Ajit Pai (FCC)
Pai was scheduled to be interviewed by Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association. (FCC)

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has cancelled his appearance at the annual CES trade show in Las Vegas for the second year running. While last year’s cancellation was reportedly due to death threats Pai received following the commission’s reversal of net neutrality rules, the partial government shutdown is to blame for this year’s last-minute no-show.

Earlier this week, the FCC said it would be suspending most operations due to the federal government’s continued impasse over funding. However, the federal agency also said Pai, other commissioners and about 200 employees would continue working because their compensation is financed outside of annual appropriations.

It’s unclear why Pai’s scheduled appearance on the keynote stage was cancelled under these circumstances, but a spokeswoman for Pai laid the blame squarely upon the “partial funding lapse” in a statement emailed to CNET.

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Pai was scheduled to be interviewed next week by Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, but the event has been removed from the official schedule. Commissioner Brendan Carr also has reportedly cancelled his scheduled appearance at the country’s largest annual technology conference.

Pai was expected to discuss “the exciting opportunities the FCC faces as the agency navigates the rapidly changing technological landscape,” according to the session’s description. Meanwhile, Carr was scheduled to attend a roundtable session focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding 5G, privacy and accessibility.

CES 2018 begins on Jan. 8 and runs through Jan. 11.