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FCC Retreats From Outrageous Media Control Project

February 24, 2014


As recent media reports indicated, the Federal Communications Commission recently promoted a program designed to control – or at least influence – what stories news media cover. Under the proposal, reporters and news directors would be required to answer a number of survey questions regarding what and how they cover certain stories.

Naturally, a resounding backlash from Republicans and concerned Americans of all stripes erupted, voicing an understandable concern regarding government operatives being released into all realms of the journalism industry.

Fortunately, the FCC listened to the criticism and, for now, promises to curtail any efforts to implement the practice.

Though the commission alluded to the possibility of a new version of the project, it insisted any future renditions would not include any direct interviews with media professionals.

While plenty of citizens were outraged by the proposed government takeover of media coverage, some within the FCC were similarly incensed.

According to Commissioner Ajit Pai, the proposed study “would have thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country, somewhere it just doesn’t belong.”

He celebrated the decision to repeal it as “an important victory for the First Amendment.”

Though FCC Chariman Tom Wheeler refuted the claims that the commission would be infringing on a network or reporter’s right to free speech, he conceded the study amounted to an unwarranted intrusion. Certain questions included in the survey, he added, should be stripped.

Among the most disparaged issues tackled in the suggested survey were queries regarding an outlet’s philosophy and whether editors or directors had ever failed to report “a story with critical information.”

Of course, a free press would be able to determine on its own whether a report contained such information, which was the main bone of contention among opponents of the proposal.

FCC Spokesperson Shannon Gilson, while denying the commission “intends to regulate the speech of news media or plans to put monitors in America’s newsroom,” indicated that any future studies “will not seek participation from or include questions for media owners, news directors or reporters.”

At this point in America’s leftist evolution, that might be the closest to a victory free speech advocates can expect.

CREDIT TO:  B. Christopher Agee / The Western Center For Journalism





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