In a letter to senior House Republicans released Thursday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the agency “has no intention of regulating political or other speech of journalists or broadcasters.”
Republicans have picked at an FCC study introduced last spring on “critical information needs” that is intended to examine barriers of entry into the news media industry for small businesses. The study’s inquiry included questions such as: “What is the news philosophy of the station?” and “Who decides which stories are covered?”
The FCC is required by law to conduct such research studies, but the commission’s critics say this one was an initial foray into an effort to regulate newsrooms’ editorial decisions.
The questions the study asked, Republicans say, tread too close for comfort to the now-defunct Fairness Doctrine, a controversial federal policy that required radio and TV news to present opposing views of the news stories they covered. The policy was in effect from 1949 through 1987 and was formally wiped from the books in 2011.