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Public’s critical information needs under examination by FCC

What do Americans need when it comes to information? The FCC wants to know.

The commission Office of Communications Business Opportunities and the Media Bureau Feb. 6, 2012, released a request for quote for a study to examine “the critical information needs of the American public.” The commission also said it was seeking suggestions (due Feb. 27, 2012) on other studies that should be conducted.

According to the public notice announcing the RFQ, the agency wants the study to address how Americans meet their information needs; how the media ecosystem operates to address critical information needs; and what barriers exist in providing content and services to address these information needs.

The agency is asking that the study review existing literature on the subject, and summarize and discuss published research, analysis and information on how Americans meet their information needs. Other components will include a look at the media ecosystem and existing barriers to meeting the need for information. The FCC also wants the study to include an analysis of “relevant published materials” that includes recommendations for definitions and metrics, “including an explicit definition for ‘critical information needs.’”

FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn expressed pleasure with the announcement of the RFQ. “As directed by Congress, under Section 257 of the Communications Act of 1934, the commission must identify and eliminate market entry marries for small business and promote policies favoring ‘a diversity of media voices; vigorous economic competition; technological advancement; and promotion of the public interest, convenience and necessity,” she said in a statement released with the RFQ.

The request for quote demonstrates the commitment of the commission to gather data and pay for research and analysis “to better understand how the commission’s policies promote the public interest.”