Under pressure, the FCC announced 2/28 it has pulled the plug on its Critical Information Needs study altogether now–rather than just pulling some invasive questions: “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.”
Noted Commissioner Ajit Pai: “I am pleased that the FCC has canceled its Critical Information Needs study. In our country, the government does not tell the people what information they need. Instead, news outlets and the American public decide that for themselves. I look forward to working with my colleagues to identify and remove actual barriers to entry into the communications industry. This newsroom study was a distraction from that important goal.”
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) welcomed the decision. Every Republican member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee wrote to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in December urging the suspension of the study, which would have included interviewing journalists and other news professionals about their decision-making processes.
“We welcome the news that the FCC is dropping its ill-conceived encroachment into the newsroom,” said Upton and Walden. “This is a victory for the First Amendment and freedom of the press. 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.”