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71% Say Government Has No Business Monitoring News Content

by Jane Susskind, published

While we are in constant disagreement over what issues should be covered in the media, 71 percent of Americans agree that it is not the government's job to monitor what issues the media does decide to cover, according to a recent poll released by Rasmussen Reports.

The survey comes shortly after the Federal Communications Commission's decision to back off their program, referred to as the "Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs," or CIN. The purpose of the program was to determine if the news media is meeting the public’s “critical information needs.”

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai describes its purpose in an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal earlier this month:

The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about "the process by which stories are selected" and how often stations cover "critical information needs," along with "perceived station bias" and "perceived responsiveness to underserved populations."

So, what is at risk? For starters, our First Amendment right to freedom of the press. The Communications and Technology Subcommittee writes:

"The Commission has no business in probing the news media's editorial judgement and expertise, nor does it have any business in prescribing a set diet of "critical information." These goals are plainly inappropriate and are at bottom an incursion by the government into the constitutionally protected operations of the professional news media."

And America agrees. Seventy-six percent (76%) of Rasmussen respondents expressed concern that FCC involvement in the news cycle will result in the promotion of a political agenda or control over the media.

While the FCC has agreed to re-examine the program to ensure it does not overstep government authority, it is still unclear what the conclusion of this dispute will be.

What do you think? Is it the government’s role to monitor the content of news organizations in this country?

Photo Credit: CBS12

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