FCC Commissioner: ‘Government Has No Place in the Newsroom’
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai went “On The Record” tonight to discuss the FCC’s proposed study, which would send researchers into newsrooms to figure out why news organizations cover certain stories.
The FCC also identified eight key topics that the government believes should be covered in the news.
Pai recently published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that brought attention to the study. “As I looked into the study design, I got a little more concerned about what this implicated for our First Amendment values,” he told Greta Van Susteren.
Pai said that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has instructed the contractor who will be doing the study to remove questions relating to news philosophy and editorial judgment.
“I think that’s a positive step, but of course the devil’s in the details when it comes to the actual study as implemented,” Pai said.
According to Pai, the study was designed and adopted by previous leadership. He said the FCC is technically relying on a statute that requires it to report to Congress every three years about possible barriers that entrepreneurs and small businesses face when trying to break into the communications industry. Newspapers would be included in the study, yet Pai said the FCC has no authority over print publications.
“The study hasn’t yet started, and that’s why I think it’s critical for us to make sure at the outset that either we stop the study or, if it’s going forward, we make sure it doesn’t infringe on anyone’s constitutional freedoms,” Pai said. He told Van Susteren that news outlets “don’t need the government over their shoulders telling them they’re doing something wrong.”
Pai said he is hopeful that the FCC "will come to embrace the basic principle that, again, the government has no place in the newsroom.”
Watch his full interview above.