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Legislator Introduces Bills That Would “Kill” FCC Newsroom Monitoring Plan

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(Townsquare media image)

Oregon Representative Greg Walden is leading the charge to curtail the FCC’s intrusion.

Earlier this month, Newstalk 870 reported the FCC was planning to implement what they called a “Critical Information Needs” study, that would place “observers” in newsrooms, and involve questioning the practices of TV and radio station news outlets.

The Federal Communications Commission “study” (or intrusion as the broadcasting industry called it) would ask a series of detailed questions about where and how news outlets get their stories, what they choose to cover, and “suggest” ways to provide news THEY felt was important to listeners and viewers.

Rep. Walden, a Republican from Oregon, has introduced a bill and will hold hearings to, as he put it,  aimed at completely stopping this and any similar studies in the future.  Walden happens to be the chairman of the House Communciations and Technology Sub-Committee, which legislatively deals with broadcasting.

The FCC has backed away from the study, or put it on hold, according to Fox News:

“On Friday, the FCC said that Chairman Tom Wheeler agreed that some of the study’s proposed questions “overstepped the bounds of what is required.” The agency announced that a proposed pilot study in South Carolina would be shelved, at least until a “new study design” is finalized.”


Walden and many legislators are not satisfied with this delay.   Walden made it clear he will not tolerate any unnecessary intrusions by the federal broadcast monitoring arm into the media’s First Amendment Rights. Again according to Fox News:

“The very existence of this CIN study is an affront to the First Amendment and should have never been proposed in the first place. ... To date, Chairman Wheeler has insisted upon only making small tweaks, and what he has proposed to do isn’t enough. The study should be eradicated completely.

It took nearly 25 years to get the Fairness Doctrine off the books once it had been ‘eliminated’ in 1987, and we will do whatever it takes to ensure this study or any other effort by the government to control the output of America’s newsrooms never sees the light of day.”

 By the way, Walden knows what he’s talking about, as he has spent much of his business career as a broadcaster, and owner of several radio stations. He used to own Columbia Gorge Broadcasting, which has five radio stations in the Eastern Columbia Gorge area of Oregon.   He sold them in 2007 to make sure there was no conflict of interest with his Congressional communications and technology duties.

He is the only GOP Representative from the State of Oregon.



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