UPDATED: Nobody expected this FCC Inquisition

UPDATE: The FCC announced a hold to the program:

Chairman [Tom] Wheeler agreed that survey questions in the study directed toward media outlet managers, news directors, and reporters overstepped the bounds of what is required. Last week, Chairman Wheeler informed lawmakers that that Commission has no intention of regulating political or other speech of journalists or broadcasters and would be modifying the draft study. Yesterday, the Chairman directed that those questions be removed entirely.

Gotta love a win, even if it might be temporary. /UPDATE

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO — I have a rather unique position in media. I am 33 and have 30 years’ experience in radio broadcast.

I grew up around radio and its personalities. I can tell you the great things the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine did, and the damage that the ensuing corporateers caused to the field.

Now there is impending implementation of the massive survey called “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs (CIN)” for the FCC. The commissioner is Mignon Clyburn — daughter of House Democratic Rep. James Clyburn and headed by the Social Solutions International Inc. (SSI).

The task will place government “researchers” (or agents) in media outlets nationally to ask questions about newsroom philosophy and demographics.

The media mouths are freaking out, and rightly so.

The primary claim of the project is the research to insure the public is being told the things they really “need to know” about through Critical Information Needs (Oddly/funny how the acronym CIN is pronounced “SIN”).

These “needs” are basically set and determined by SSI and the FCC, and it’s “stakeholders”. Not the journalism profession or the media industry itself.

The Washington Examiner notes, “The FCC commissioned the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Communication and Democracy”

But that is not the same thing as active industry professionals. The plan or “research design” is as follows:

Social Solutions International (Social Solutions) is pleased to present this research design to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Social Solutions has been tasked with the development of a research design that can be used to identify and understand the critical information needs (CINs) of the American public (with special emphasis on vulnerable/disadvantaged populations)

Why? How is any of this government business?

The FCC is claiming claim they’re trying to find where access is and where barriers stop people from getting information, especially according to the Washington Journal article by Ajit Pai — they are gathering information for “a report that the FCC must submit to Congress every three years on eliminating barriers to entry for entrepreneurs and small businesses in the communications industry.”

Yet, the only thing that keeps new news/media companies from entering broadcast is… the FCC regulations and control of the airwaves which causes tower creation and maintenance fees to be massive and frequencies to be limited.

Thank God for the FCC!

What they’re doing in person is mining for private company information and watching how the news operates and what it says. The goal of the plan really appears to be a precursor to increased propaganda — in the form of government programs and information they see fit issued by their monitors in the newsrooms.

SSI CEO Susanna Nemess’ background is most telling.

Her career is in health service and healthcare needs. The official website states that SSI Areas of Expertise are:

HIV/AIDS and STDs, Substance Abuse Treatment and Prevention, Violence Prevention and Intervention, International Research and Evaluation, Criminal Justice, Maternal and Child Health, Minority and Immigrant Health, Executive Coaching and Strategic Planning.

Did you see media, news media, or broadcast anywhere? Neither did I!

Why ever would the government want an organization that focuses on health services to decide the terms for an investigation of what CIN is shared through news? Unless it entails propaganda campaigns and the return of the Fairness doctrine, or worse…

A lot of the actual content information gathering is done offsite by DataLine Media — a Hawaiian outfit — which is weird considering most media houses are in California and on the East Coast where no doubt some other company is doing this same work.

The biggest issue to me is the Internet research, as it clearly states they will pull up archived information through Archive-It.

I’m not sure Archive-It is a problem, but many of the elitists in DC have attacked: bloggers’ rights to freedom of speech; The Associated Press through scandalous illegal phone record seizures; And everyone’s favorite… NSA spying!

That makes this act especially concerning.

But as a member of the new FCC’s media I must say they would never illegally gather personal data on anyone… Nor punish them for saying bad things about them…

At the end of the day this issue at hand is very simply addressed: Is this necessary? AND: Does government have the right to know what stories news media is distributing and how?

If one expects to have free speech, one shouldn’t want the government anywhere near the press.

We sure as hell should have never allowed regulation of free speech in the first place!

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