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Majority of likely voters oppose government monitoring news

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The results of a Rasmussen survey, released on Tuesday, reveal that a majority of Americans oppose the government monitoring the content of news reports.

The survey, conducted between Feb. 22-23, was in response to the announcement that the FCC had been planning to place monitors in newsrooms in order to determine “'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,'” FCC commissioner Ajit Pai wrote in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal earlier this month.

The agency canceled plans to begin a pilot study of the program in South Carolina after a public backlash, which was hailed by Pai, who was critical of the plan, as “a big victory for the First Amendment.”

The plan hasn't been abandoned entirely, though, as the FCC intends to finalize a “new study design.”

The public, however, is opposed to the government monitoring the news, as shown in the Rasmussen survey. According to the survey, 71 percent of likely voters do not believe that the government should do so, while only 18 percent believe that it should.

Seventy-six percent are at least somewhat concerned that this plan will lead to government controlling the news or promoting a political agenda. Nearly half, 49 percent, are very concerned. Twenty-one percent were not concerned, and only four percent were not at all concerned.

Respondents were also asked about the Fairness Doctrine, which would require television and radio news networks to give both liberal and conservative views equal amounts of time. The doctrine was in place in the United States from 1949 until 1987.

Forty-nine percent oppose the doctrine's requirements, while 38 percent support it, with 13 percent undecided.

Support for the Fairness Doctrine was mainly split among party lines, with Democrats supporting it “by a 45% to 40% margin.” Fifty-three percent of Republicans and 55 percent of independents oppose it.

Over the last few years, there's been a movement, mainly among liberal Democrats, to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. Opponents of the doctrine have criticized it as violating the First Amendment.

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