Analysis: Cable, Broadcast News Give Little Airtime to Net Neutrality

Cable news nets CNN, Fox and MSNBC, and network newscasts on ABC, CBS and NBC have given "scant coverage"--about 27 minutes combined--to the network neutrality rule rollback and Thursday's FCC vote to eliminate most net neutrality rules. The upcoming vote has been the subject of numerous calls from Hill Democrats for a delay, and protests online and in person, suggesting the vote could mean the end of the open internet.

Those totals are according to a content analysis by Media Matters for America, which opposes the rollback and suggested the major outlets were essentially ignoring a big story.

In the past two weeks (between Nov. 28 and Dec. 13), MSNBC has aired eight-plus minutes on the topic, while CNN and Fox only about four minutes apiece. MSNBC also aired a Dec. 13 story, but that was afer the analysis was completed, so its total would be even higher.

Over that same time period, on the network morning and evening news and Sunday political shows, NBC mirrored co-owned MSNBC with eight minutes, while CBS had only a little more than two minutes and ABC no minutes, according to Media Matters.

Since news of the vote broke, the six outlets have devoted a combined hour and 39 minutes to the story, with MSNBC leading the way at 55 minutes.

Media Matters "searched the Snapstream database of television video transcripts for any mentions of “net neutrality,” "Federal Communications Commission,” or “FCC” from November 20 to Dec. 12."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.