The Hill –
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is pulling the plug on a controversial study that critics warned would have threatened the First Amendment right to freedom of the press.
A spokeswoman with the commission said on Friday that a pilot version of the study would be suspended and redesigned so that journalists would not have to answer the FCC’s questions about their work.
“To be clear, media owners and journalists will no longer be asked to participate in the Columbia, S.C., pilot study,” Shannon Gilson said in a statement.
“The pilot will not be undertaken until a new study design is final. Any subsequent market studies conducted by the FCC, if determined necessary, will not seek participation from or include questions for media owners, news directors or reporters.”
The study on “critical information needs” had sparked concern from the public, especially Republicans, who said it seemed like an attempt to control journalists’ speech.
The pilot study would have asked journalists about their “news philosophy” and the way that they selected stories.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said that the commission never intended to muzzle journalists.