SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, is an important piece of legislation, but it's been virtually absent from prime-time news broadcasts, a new report from media watchdog Media Matters said. The group found the major news telecasts have not been talking about SOPA except in brief. MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News and CBS have ignored the bill, the report says. Media Matters collected data on the news shows from Oct. 1, 2011 until Jan. 4, 2012, and found only CNN devoted any substantial coverage in prime-time.
The report speaks for itself about what TV news chooses to cover, Media Matters Executive Vice President Ari Rabin-Havt said.
When you have a major public policy debate that has massive implications and is a major source of lobbying revenue on Capitol Hill, it says something.
SOPA supporters include ABC and CBS, and NBC Universal and News Corp. are both on Congress' list of SOPA supporters. The report only includes prime-time television coverage, but Media Matters did point out the networks covered the issue online. More Americans get their news from television, however.
We were upfront about our methodology, but I think this is a major bill that should be covered during prime-time hours. If a story's important, they (networks) should pursue it in both venues, Rabin-Hayt said.
SOPA and its sister bill in the Senate. called the Protect IP Act, are meant to fight online pirating and copyright infringement, but critics insist it will have far reaching, if unintended effects. SOPA, if passed, would hold Web sites accountable for stolen works and punish them for hosting pirated content. The Web landscape is currently much different. Web sites are protected by a Supreme Court ruling that puts the onus on producers of pirated content; not on Web sites themselves. Let us know in the comments if you watch prime-time news broadcasts and how you heard about SOPA.