Civil Liberties

The FCC's Obsolete Quotas


The Federal Communications Commission, estabalished in 1934 to regulate scarce radio spectrum, is being pressured to block a merger involving two companies that use un-scarce satellite broadcast technology, on grounds that the federal government is not dictating enough of the would-be merged company's content.

Senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus yesterday criticized a compromise plan for the proposed merger of the XM and Sirius satellite radio companies, saying the deal does not provide enough opportunities for minority-owned programming.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin said over the weekend that he would support the merger after XM Satellite Radio Holdings and Sirius Satellite Radio voluntarily agreed, among a series of other concessions, to lease 4 percent of their radio spectrums, or 12 channels, for programming run by minorities and women.

Members of the black caucus on Capitol Hill have been arguing for the merged company to lease five times that amount of spectrum to companies owned by racial minorities. […]

"It's shocking to the conscience in this day and age, where the minority populations comprise a significant part of the satellite radio audience, that Mr. Martin would settle for what I deem to be crumbs that have fallen off the table," [Rep. Elijah] Cummings said. "We can do much better. I am hoping that this can be revisited."

Love the word "voluntarily" there.

In an era of unparalleled media plenty, and microscopic barriers to entry, what the living hell is the federal government doing setting up ownership quotas?

Jesse Walker talked about the FCC's disastrous central planning just last week.