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Maine Senator blasts Obama admin over “offensive” newsroom research program

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collinsWASHINGTON, D.C. – After intense backlash from mostly conservative circles, the federal government has backed away from the Federal Communication Commission’s plan to survey America’s newsrooms.

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins on Tuesday delivered a letter to Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, condemning the so-called “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs” (CIN – pronounced – sin). 

“I cannot recall a regulatory proposal more offensive to the principles of the First Amendment,” wrote Collins. “A free press is central to American liberties, and allowing the executive branch to attempt to influence the news the public receives is chilling and completely unacceptable.”

“While I am pleased that your office has chosen to temporarily suspend this study, I am deeply troubled that the Commission would even contemplate such actions in the first place,” Collins wrote.

“As I understand it, under the CIN as originally proposed, FCC representatives would have interviewed journalists, anchors, and producers about the stories they choose to cover, and the manner in which those stories were reported,” wrote Collins. “As FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai noted in a recent Wall Street Journal article, the FCC would have been engaged in questioning news station personnel about their “news philosophy,” and about editorial discretion and decision-making.”

“Given the fact that the FCC is also tasked with evaluating broadcast license applications, it is not a stretch to imagine that newsrooms would seek to choose and present stories in a manner that the Commission deems ‘appropriate,'” wrote Collins.

“I urge the Commission to abandon this approach altogether to ensure the Commission takes no steps to impede the First Amendment rights of news organizations or other Americans under any guise,” Collins concludes.

 

About Steve Robinson

Steve Robinson is the former editor of The Maine Wire and currently the executive producer of the Kirk Minihane Show. Follow him on Twitter @BigSteve207.

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