Blackout : did mainstream media censor SOPA coverage?
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It is imperative the public be made aware of major media policy decisions to help take part in and shape the industry that they rely on to be an informed citizenry in a democracy. However, in an increasingly concentrated media landscape where fewer owners control our channels of information and reign over a vast array of holdings, the system is firmly positioned to conceal or marginalize policy stories that negatively affect its business interests. This study explores mainstream TV news coverage of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA– legislation proposed to reduce counterfeit purchases online that came under fire from critics for potentially threatening the fabric of free expression on the Internet. By asking, “How much attention did major television news networks whose parent companies supported SOPA devote to the bill during their nightly broadcasts?” and “How much attention did major television news networks whose parent companies supported SOPA devote to the bill during their nightly broadcasts after the Internet Blackout protesting the Act?” it finds those networks whose parent companies sought to benefit from the Act’s passage failed to report on the legislation at crucial times before and after the SOPA debate. The results largely fall in line with the mainstream media– namely the broadcast industry’s– historical self-censorship of significant media policy stories.