Satellite-Radio Merger Might Require Some Obscene New Rules

Feb 21st, 2007 // 4 Comments

ludacxm.jpgNumerous questions remain about the just-proposed union between XM and Sirius, including: Will the FCC see the newly formed company as a monopoly? What will happen to their combined staff? And, most importantly, how will this affect Ludacris?

XM and Sirius will also need to address what might be called the Howard Stern problem: The foul-mouthed radio host is among several edgy radio personalities that decamped to satellite radio, where regulators have no jurisdiction to enforce federal indecency rules. The FCC can only enforce indecency rules on free over-the-air broadcasts.

Requiring XM-Sirius to voluntarily abide by federal indecency standards could be one condition that is placed on the deal. The companies appear to be trying to address that issue by allowing consumers great flexibility in programming. That might include allowing consumers to purchase a tier of service that didn’t include Mr. Stern and other radio personalities whose shows might be considered inappropriate for children.

Of course, Stern isn’t the only host whose banter could come under scrutiny, as the combined networks’ line-ups include such potentially potty-mouthed stars as Luda, Snoop Dogg, Trick Daddy, Rancid, the Who, Eminem, and “Mista Shitstorm” himself, Richard Simmons.

Sirius-XM’s Fate Hinges on Definitions [WSJ.com]

idolator

  1. Miss Tanya

    If my monthly goes up, I’m calling Idolator and yelling Bababooey.

  2. Hamm Beerger

    “Requiring XM-Sirius to voluntarily…”

    Boy, they turned the government regulator doublespeak up to eleven there.

  3. Falconfire

    Why would they require it? They dont for cable, cable simply regulates themselves.

  4. Deadly Tango

    Since the FCC has to alter/rescind its own arcane digital satellite rules to permit the merger, it has a ton of leverage in this deal even after the Department of Justice addresses the antitrust issue.

    The FCC has been itching for an excuse to roll back the “hands off on subscription services” court rulings. It’s the next logical step in making the country “safe for our children.” The Commission also has lots of support from the moral arbiters sitting in Congress (whether the lobbyists or the elected ones).

    With a “voluntary” policy change by XM/Sirius, the FCC won’t violate the federal court rulings upholding the (increasingly irrelevant) First Amendment in the subscription space. Trust me, if Time Warner Cable and Comcast were looking to merge, the FCC would impose a similarly voluntary policy on them, too.

    Also, remember those millions of dollars of “voluntary settlements” that Infinity Broadcasting (Stern’s and Karmazin’s former place of business) used to make before Stern jumped to Sirius? The FCC could certainly close its own budget deficit if it gained that kind of indecency regulation over the new XM/Sirius.

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