We reported yesterday that the FCC planned to place government minders in press newsrooms around the country. Seems the story that first appeared in the Wall Street Journal caused such a firestorm, the FCC has decided to pull the plug on the program.
The Federal Communications Commission announced Friday that it was putting on hold a controversial study of American newsrooms, after complaints from Republican lawmakers and media groups that the project was too intrusive.
FCC spokeswoman Shannon Gilson said Chairman Tom Wheeler agreed with critics that some of the study’s proposed questions for reporters and news directors “overstepped the bounds of what is required.”
The agency announced that a proposed pilot study in South Carolina will now be shelved, at least until a “new study design” is finalized. But the agency made clear that this and any future studies will not involve interviews with “media owners, news directors or reporters.”
Commissioner Ajit Pai, who was one of the staunchest critics of the proposal, heralded the decision Friday as an acknowledgement that government-backed researchers would not be dispatched into newsrooms, as feared.
“This study would have thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country, somewhere it just doesn’t belong,” he said in a statement. “The Commission has now recognized that no study by the federal government, now or in the future, should involve asking questions to media owners, news directors, or reporters about their practices. This is an important victory for the First Amendment.”