The Federal Communications Commission will amend a proposed study of newsrooms in South Carolina after outcry over what some called "invasive questions," the commission's chairman said Friday.
The survey was meant to study how and if the media is meeting the public's “critical information needs” on subjects like public health, politics, transportation and the environment. Now, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said questions about news philosophy and editorial judgment will be removed from the survey and media owners and reporters will no longer be questioned.
The uproar caught on fire after one of the Republican commissioners, Ajit Pai, penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last week blasting the survey and saying the government had no place in newsrooms. The FCC is required by law to conduct media studies.
"Any suggestion the Commission intends to regulate the speech of news media is false," FCC spokeswoman Shannon Gilson said Friday in a statement, adding that a revised study will be released within the next few weeks. Additionally, she said media owners and journalists will no longer be asked to participate in the pilot study.
"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," she said.