FCC seeks study of studies on diversity, information needs


Eliminating barriers to entry into the communications field and examining how the media is doing when it comes to making sure citizens have access to vital information are two goals of the FCC. But before initiating new studies on the topics, it wants a detailed study on what information is already out there and ready to be analyzed. FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn enthusiastically welcomed the new project.

In its request for quotation from parties interested in producing the requested study, FCC wrote, “In order to assess whether government action is needed to ensure that the information needs of all Americans, including women and minorities, are being addressed, to determine the relationship, if any, between meeting critical information needs, and the available opportunities for all Americans to participate in the communications industries, it is first necessary to examine what prior research has been conducted with regard to how the public acquires critical information, how the media ecosystem operates to provide critical information, and what barriers exist to participation.”

At the same time, the FCC is also soliciting suggestions for additional studies in these areas.

“I am extremely pleased with today’s announcement, as it falls squarely within the Commission’s duty to comply with the directives of Section 257 and in reporting about the actions it has taken to meet those directives,” said Clyburn. “As directed by Congress, under Section 257 of the Communications Act of 1934, the Commission must identify and eliminate market entry barriers for small businesses and promote policies favoring “a diversity of media voices, vigorous economic competition, technological advancement, and promotion of the public interest, convenience and necessity.”

She commended certain efforts the FCC is already making along these lines, but added, “The Commission has long understood that diverse participation in the communications industry and access to diverse and antagonistic sources of information falls under that charge, and we are especially interested in whether the critical information needs of all Americans are being met. Making certain that our policies promote access to information about how to respond to emergencies and health care threats as well as other critical information must be an absolute priority of this Commission.”