If You Can't Beat 'Em, Regulate the Hell Out of 'Em


Now that the Justice Department has handed defeat to the National Association of Broadcaster's high-profile (but laughable) campaign against the XM-Sirius satellite radio merger, they're taking a new tack: regulate away satellite's advantages.

Clear Channel is asking the FCC to slap a series of regulations on satellite radio before approving the merger, including requiring XM-Sirius to abide by FCC decency regulations, banning any local broadcasting or advertising (both companies currently offer traffic and weather for large metropolitan areas), minimum public interest programming requirements, and—somewhat surprisingly—licensure for a competing satellite provider.

I actually agree with the last one. I've never understood why the federal government only allowed for two satellite radio providers in the first place.

The other requirements are ridiculous. Whatever you think of FCC decency regulations, satellite radio is a subscription service. Customers pay for what they're getting. You can also easily block objectionable material. As for barring local programming, I'm intrigued to see how Clear Channel plans to argue that limiting competition to terrestrial radio's local coverage would in any way benefit consumers.