Decision to Cease Revival of Fairness Doctrine Comes Over 11 Weeks After Committee Members First Raised Issue with FCC
WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) today welcomed the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to scrap the commission’s Critical Information Needs (CIN) study. Every Republican member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee wrote to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in December urging the suspension of the study, which would have included interviewing journalists and other news professionals about their decision-making processes.
“We welcome the news that the FCC is dropping its ill-conceived encroachment into the newsroom,” said Upton and Walden. “This is a victory for the First Amendment and freedom of the press. But this unprecedented and dangerous intrusion on America’s newsrooms should never have been pursued in the first place. Although important questions remain, Chairman Wheeler’s action is a positive step.”
In December, Chairman Upton, Subcommittee Chairman Walden, and every Republican member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee wrote to Chairman Wheeler urging him to suspend the study. After the FCC responded to the December letter, Upton and Walden expressed concern that the study still left room for First Amendment violations. Members cited similar concerns with respect to the original Fairness Doctrine and committee leaders urged then FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to remove the statute from the Code of Federal Regulations in 2011. The doctrine was eliminated in August 2011.