FCC Chairman cancels CES appearance for second year in a row

Ajit Pai will again be a no-show at CES thanks to the partial government shut down.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read
FCC Hearing

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (left) and FCC commissioner Brendan Carr (right) were scheduled to appear at the CES trade show next week. But due to the partial government shutdown Pai's office confirmed he will not be going to Las Vegas. 

Bill Clark

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will not be attending the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas for the second year in a row.

Pai was scheduled to be interviewed by CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, Gary Shapiro at the annual show next week. But a spokeswoman for Pai confirmed Thursday that the chairman will not make it to Las Vegas due to the partial government shutdown.

"The chairman will be unable to attend CES due to the partial funding lapse and the FCC suspending most operations starting today," she said in a statement emailed to CNET.

The FCC said Wednesday that without funding it would cease most activities as of midday Jan. 3, "other than those immediately necessary for the protection of life or property, performing other excepted activities, or those funded through a source other than lapsed appropriations."

This has meant that most of the agency's employees have been furloughed. While the chairman and the four FCC commissioners will still be showing up to work, funding is limited, which means travel is restricted.

It's still unclear if Commissioner Brendan Carr, who was also scheduled to attend CES, will still show up. His office did not respond to a request for comment.

Representatives from CTA did not respond to a request for comment.

The partial shutdown began on Dec. 22 after the House of Representatives and Senate failed to come to agreement on President Trump's demand for $5 billion to fund work on a border wall. The shutdown is expected to continue indefinitely even after Democrats officially took control of the House of Representatives today,  when the new Congress convened in Washington.

Pai also canceled his CES appearance last year. His cancellation last year came weeks after the FCC repealed the agency's popular net neutrality rules. The FCC never provided a reason for the cancellation. But reports at the time suggested Pai had received death threats after the net neutrality repeal in December of 2017. In June, the FBI arrested a 33-year-old California man, who had sent emails to Pai threatening to kill members of his family in December 2017.

Tech Enabled: CNET chronicles tech's role in providing new kinds of accessibility.

Special ReportsCNET's in-depth features in one place.