According to a report by Tim Cavanaugh, news editor of National Review Online, the Federal Communications Commission “has pulled the plug on its plan to conduct an intrusive probe of newsrooms” as part of a “Critical Information Needs” survey of local media markets.
FCC spokesperson Shannon Gilson issueda news release that indicated in the course of the commission's review and public comment, “concerns were raised that some of the questions may not have been appropriate. Chairman [Tom] Wheeler agreed that survey questions in the study directed toward media outlet managers, news directors, and reporters overstepped the bounds of what is required” for the pilot study in Columbia, South Carolina.
Despite the disturbing news on Wednesday that the Federal Communications Commission had developed a controversial plan to investigate television and radio newsrooms across the country, the broadcast networks of NBC, ABC, and CBS completely ignored the potential threat to press freedom.
In a February 10 Op/Ed for the Wall Street Journal, current FCC commissioner Ajit Pai warned: "Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its 'Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,' or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run."
On Tuesday a federal appeals court ruled that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) overstepped its legal authority in 2010 when it imposed so-called net neutrality regulations on broadband companies -- cable and fiber-optic Internet providers like Comcast or Verizon FiOS. The FCC had done this despite language in federal law which forbade the regulations under a "common carrier" provision.
While the Wall Street Journal's Gautham Nagesh and Amol Sharma gave readers a factual portrait of the ruling which dealt with the law and the economic realities of broadband service, the Washington Post's Cecilia Kang opted for the melodramatic in her January 15 front-pager, foreseeing a future replete with the Internet's fast lanes auctioned "to the highest corporate bidder" while "other Web sites [slow] to a crawl." "Ultimately," the Post national technology correspondent ominously warned (emphasis mine):
“We need to recapture the regulatory ideal. That ideal is that regulation of infrastructure, government intervention, makes free markets and free speech possible.” Susan Crawford said at the National Conference for Media Reform. The gathering of left-wing media activists and media ran from April 5-7 in Denver. The group Free Press, which sponsored the conference, has received over $1.6 million in Soros funding since 2004.
Crawford, a Bloomberg contributor and former White House Technology Adviser, claimed that “this regulatory ideal unleashes human ingenuity; it's pro-competition, pro-growth, pro-innovation.” (Government – is there anything it can’t do?)
Now that it’s almost departure time for Julius Genachowski, Obama’s first chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, The Hill newspaper has noted one important sign of his priorities. In his four years at the helm, the FCC hasn’t issued one fine to Hollywood for indecent content on broadcast television. Now there’s a legacy.
Hollywood sends its gratitude, Mr. Chairman, for an absolutely perfect record of inaction. Who says that in Obama’s America, your campaign contributions can’t buy regulatory paralysis in Washington when needed?