FCC Won't Move Forward With Newsroom Study | Adweek FCC Won't Move Forward With Newsroom Study | Adweek
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Finally! FCC Kills Newsroom Study

Critics claimed it violated press freedom

Ajit Pai | Photo: Getty Images

The Federal Communications Commission finally killed the study that caused an uproar because it called for researchers to query the stations it licenses and newspapers about how they make editorial decisions in the newsroom.

The short, two-sentence statement from a spokesperson (not chairman Tom Wheeler), came late Friday, the time the FCC always seems to pick for controversial news.

"The FCC will not move forward with the Critical Information Needs study. 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 statement said.

The study triggered two weeks of controversy about government intrusion into freedom of the press. House communications and technology subcommittee chairman Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) vowed to hold a hearing and introduce a bill to kill the study even after the FCC said it would take out the offending newsroom questions.

But as late as Wednesday, Democratic FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn attempted to defend the study in a speech before the Media Institute. Her speech was countered a day later by FCC commissioner Mike O'Rielly, who joined his fellow Republican commissioner Ajit Pai in condemning the study and calling for its cancellation.

"This is a victory for the First Amendment and freedom of the press," said House commerce committe chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Walden, in a statement. "But this unprecedented and dangerous intrusion on America's newsrooms should never have been pursued in the first place. Although important questions remain, chairman Wheeler's action is a positive step."

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