Report: FCC's Controversial Newsroom Study May Be Put On Hold
February 14, 2014 at 4:19 AM (PT)
The FCC's controversial study of broadcast newsroom practices is apparently being put on a back burner, reports ADWEEK's KATY BACHMANN. The "Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs," announced last FALL, was seen by critics as an unwarranted intrusion into the decision-making process in broadcast newsrooms, and 16 members of Congress sent a letter to Chairman TOM WHEELER in DECEMBER asking the Commission to stop the study (NET NEWS 12/11).
Commissioner AJIT PAI, in an op-ed article in the WALL STREET JOURNAL this week, criticized the study, saying that the federal government "has no place pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories" and noting that " the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run." PAI detailed questions he said the study, set for a field test in COLUMBIA, SC this SPRING, would ask, including "Have you ever suggested coverage of what you consider a story with critical information for your customers that was rejected by management?"
PAI called the study "a first step down the same dangerous path" that led to the Fairness Doctrine, and, noting that the purported purpose of the study was to support efforts to increase minority ownership of stations, asked, "How can the news judgments made by editors and station managers impede small businesses from entering the broadcast industry? And why does the CIN study include newspapers when the FCC has no authority to regulate print media?"
An FCC representative told ADWEEK that the Commission "has no intention of interfering in the coverage and editorial choices that journalists make. We're closely reviewing the proposed research design to determine if an alternative approach is merited."