Under Fire, FCC Drops Media Study

Republicans claimed the study would have stifled freedom of the press.

(L-R) In this handout image provided by Fox News Sunday, U.S. Representative Roy Blunt (R-MO), U.S. Representative John Boehner (R-OH) and U.S. Representative John Shadegg (R-AZ) appear on a monitor screen as they discuss possible reform issues while speaking with 'Fox News Sunday' host Chris Wallace January 15, 2006 in Washington, DC. The representatives are candidates for the position of House Majority Leader.
National Journal
Brendan Sasso
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Brendan Sasso
Feb. 28, 2014, 1:16 p.m.

Fa­cing charges that it was try­ing to con­trol the news me­dia, the Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion has dropped its con­tro­ver­sial study of news­rooms.

“The FCC will not move for­ward with the Crit­ic­al In­form­a­tion Needs study,” an agency spokes­man said Fri­day. “The Com­mis­sion will re­as­sess the best way to ful­fill its ob­lig­a­tion to Con­gress to identi­fy bar­ri­ers to entry in­to the com­mu­nic­a­tions mar­ket­place faced by en­tre­pren­eurs and oth­er small busi­nesses.”

The FCC first pro­posed the study last year, say­ing it would help it gain a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of how TV sta­tions and news­pa­pers provided news to their com­munit­ies. The agency was sched­uled to be­gin the study with a pi­lot in Columbia, S.C., this spring.

But the study came un­der fire from Re­pub­lic­ans, who claimed the agency was try­ing to meddle in the ed­it­or­i­al de­cisions of journ­al­ists.

Among oth­er things, the agency planned to ask journ­al­ists about their “news philo­sophy” and “the pro­cess by which stor­ies are se­lec­ted.” The study would have gathered data on “per­ceived sta­tion bi­as” and “per­ceived re­spons­ive­ness to un­der­served pop­u­la­tions.” The FCC also wanted to ex­am­ine how loc­al TV sta­tions covered “crit­ic­al in­form­a­tion” such as “eco­nom­ic op­por­tun­it­ies” and the “en­vir­on­ment.”

The is­sue gained more wide­spread at­ten­tion earli­er this month when Ajit Pai, a Re­pub­lic­an FCC com­mis­sion­er, wrote a Wall Street Journ­al op-ed blast­ing the study. He warned that the agency planned to send “re­search­ers to grill re­port­ers, ed­it­ors, and sta­tion own­ers about how they de­cide which stor­ies to run.”

Re­spond­ing to the ques­tions would have been vol­un­tary, but Pai sug­ges­ted that TV sta­tions would have felt pres­sured to par­ti­cip­ate be­cause they de­pend on FCC li­censes to op­er­ate.

The Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers of the House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee were plan­ning a hear­ing and pre­par­ing a bill to “erad­ic­ate” the FCC’s study.

In a joint state­ment Fri­day, En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee Chair­man Fred Up­ton and Com­mu­nic­a­tions and Tech­no­logy Sub­comit­tee Chair­man Greg Walden ap­plauded the FCC for drop­ping the “ill-con­ceived en­croach­ment in­to the news­room.”

“This is a vic­tory for the First Amend­ment and free­dom of the press. But this un­pre­ced­en­ted and dan­ger­ous in­tru­sion on Amer­ica’s news­rooms should nev­er have been pur­sued in the first place.”

A spokes­man for the Re­pub­lic­an law­makers did not say wheth­er they would still push ahead with a hear­ing or le­gis­la­tion.

FCC Chair­man Tom Wheel­er had tried to dis­tance him­self from the study, which was first pro­posed un­der his pre­de­cessor, act­ing Chair­wo­man Mignon Cly­burn. Wheel­er at first said he would re­work the pro­pos­al, be­fore de­cid­ing to scrap it al­to­geth­er.

Laura Ryan contributed to this article.
What We're Following See More »
DECLINES TO HEAR APPEAL
SCOTUS Leaves Political Ad Disclosure Law In Place
3 hours ago
BREAKING

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal to the "federal disclosure rules for political advertising," leaving in place the ruling by a lower court upholding a law requiring the disclosure of donors to political ads. The appeal came from "a Denver-based libertarian think tank that wanted to run an ad without being forced to divulge its major donors," which argued that the requirement was a violation of first amendment rights under the Court's Citizens United decision.

Source:
ENLISTS THEIR HELP IN REPEAL/REPLACE
Trump Meets with Health Execs
3 hours ago
THE LATEST
WOULD CUT NON-DEFENSE BY SAME AMOUNT
Trump Budget Would Bump Defense Spending by $54 Billion
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The Trump administration is proposing a budget it says will increase defense spending by $54 billion and cut non-defense spending by the same amount. The White House is sending a topline budget proposal reflecting those figures to federal agencies on Monday afternoon, according to an Office of Management and Budget official." An unnamed OMB official said most federal agencies would face cutbacks.

Source:
WILL THE DINNER HAPPEN?
Trump To Skip Correspondents Dinner
7 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Donald Trump announced in a tweet on Saturday that he would not attend the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in April. The move did not come as a surprise, another moment in his ongoing battle with the media, which he has dubbed the "enemy" of the American people and repeatedly refers to as "fake news." Multiple outlets have already cancelled their events surrounding the dinner and several are considering skipping the event outright.

FOLLOWS ARMY SECRETARY
Navy Secretary Nominee To Withdraw
7 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Phillip Bilden, Donald Trump's nominee for Navy secretary, has decided to withdraw his nomination after he was unable to sufficiently untangle his financial commitments. Bilden follows Vincent Viola, who withdrew his nomination for Army secretary.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login