FCC's Pai: Critical Needs Study Should Still Be Halted

FCC commissioner Ajit Pai said Friday that chairman Tom Wheeler had taken a step in the right direction when it came to the FCC's planned Critical Information Needs study, but said that was not far enough.

"Chairman Wheeler’s decision to ask the contractor to remove questions about news philosophy and editorial judgment from the CIN study is a positive step," Pai told B&C/Multi in a statement. "But I continue to believe that this study should be halted. The government should neither enter the newsroom nor define what 'critical information' journalists should be covering."

Pai took aim at the study in a Wall Street Journalop ed earlier this week. He also appeared on Fox News' On the Record to record his unhappiness with the study, which host Greta Van Susteren branded as a government attempt to put "spies in newsrooms" and Pai as a "whistle blower."

Pai is concerned about the study's attempt to divine why TV stations cover what they do. He did make the point on the show that the study pre-dated Wheeler's tenure.

In response to concerns from Hill Republicans, Wheeler said this week that he was looking at changes to the Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs study to remove concerns that it was an FCC effort to regulate news coverage, which he said it was definitely not.

The study was launched in 2012, billed as an effort to gauge the impact of media ownership on diversity.

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.