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The FCC's Obsolete Quotas

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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.

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  1. Do they lease any of their existing bandwidth? Why are we even talking about third party ownership of satellite bandwidth? And what’s wrong with the 7 hip-hop, 5 jazz, 4 latin, 3 world, and even an Asian talk radio channel?

    This is beyond stupid.

  2. If you have ever seen frequency hopping spread spectrum, you know how unbelievably fleet footed it can be.

  3. Talk about entitlement… even using the left’s “public good” canard, what’s the public good served of the government effectively handing a business over to a group of well-connected individuals? It’s called “pork-barrel politics” or “cronyism” when the recipients are white, but it’s somehow okay if the governmental parasites are black?

    How racist is that?

  4. The CBC is probably the highest-ranking racist organization in the nation. The suggestion that black congresscritters should have something in common just ’cause of the color of their skin is offensive. For them to threaten businesses to comply with their racist views is beyond the pale.

  5. “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.”

    Those pesky Beltway Friedmanites are at it again.

  6. Hey, if weren’t for affirmitive action and racial set asides, white people would never have been exposed to the blues or minority owned Motown.*

    Oh wait…

    * For a two year stretch the Supremes sold more singles than the Beatles. The Funk Brothers have performed on more #1 records than anybody.

  7. I can’t wait until we find some infinite bandwidth/spectrum and congress tries to portion it out by quotas to favored groups and cronies.

    “Um, we demand that ADM be given 15% of the infinite spectrum.”

  8. This is not a joke?

  9. Six Hip-Hop/R&B channels…

    Blues, Jazz and Reggae channels…

    Jamie Fox’s comedy channel…

    Three Latin music channels…

    CNN En Espanol, ESPN Deportes

    A gay and lesbian channel…

    Korean Language Radio…

    Riley Martin! Beetlejuice!

    Now explain to me again how Sirius doesn’t offer diversity.

  10. Be funny if all the minority-owned stations turned out to be New Wave and financial talk.

  11. XM and Sirius are publicly traded companies, so minorities and women already own part of the companies and will thus own part of the merged company.

    The CBC could’ve just pressed the FCC to allow the merger if more stacasters were allowed to enter the market, thereby creating the opportunities for any minority-owned or woman-owned company to get in the business.

    But that would require interested individuals to put their own money on the line, and possibly go out of business thus proving that the buyers of said product don’t give a fuck what race or sex the owner of the company is. It’s risk-free to simply extort concessions from an existing company. “Equal opportunity” is equivalent to “elimination of risk” to these assholes.

  12. In the cities where whitey is the minority, can the honkeys get similar perks?

  13. Sirius should renegotiate and accept the 12% version, with the stipulation that, in exchange, 12% of Congress and the federal judiciary be comprised of Sirius deejays. They couldn’t fuck things up any more than they already are

  14. Can’t minorities buy stock in XM and Sirius or does that require ID proving you are a white male heterosexual?

  15. Give BeetleJuice his own channel!! Problem solved!

  16. Argghhh…market…provide solution to diversity in entertainment…what’s wrong with these people…this why I’m…black…libertarian…arggghhh

  17. Sirius should renegotiate and accept the 12% version, with the stipulation that, in exchange, 12% of Congress and the federal judiciary be comprised of Sirius deejays.

    I want Kurtis Blow as my congressman!

  18. I am serious with this question. I am looking for a serious reply.

    Has the civil rights movement been successful in the U.S. of A? Is it now possible for a black person to be “successful” here without the govt. propping them up”?

  19. Has the civil rights movement been successful in the U.S. of A? Is it now possible for a black person to be “successful” here without the govt. propping them up”?

    Yes.

  20. Has the civil rights movement been successful in the U.S. of A? Is it now possible for a black person to be “successful” here without the govt. propping them up”?

    Yes. Although, black culture is working overtime to reverse that trend.

  21. Yes. Although, black culture is working overtime to reverse that trend.

    Whoa, you’re pushing the envelope with the generalization. Rather, I’d say there are a couple divergent trends, one of them, as you are saying extremely resistant to relinquish entitlements.

  22. The way the entitlement programs are structured, it makes it very difficult to better one’s situation. If you become gainfully employed, your income has a direct effect on your benefits to the point that it makes it unfeasible to attempt to get off the dole. IMO, there needs to be a trial work period available similar to the one with social security disability. One where a person can increase household income with no decrease in benefits. Thus allowing them a chance at independance.

  23. Blues, Jazz and Reggae channels…

    Blacks don’t listen to those. Only upper-middle-class, thirtysomething white people listen to those.

  24. “crumbs that have fallen off the table”

    Boo hoo hoo. How much of the satellite technology did that professional victim create?

  25. “Where’s my 40 acres and a satellite?”

  26. —–WELCOME TO THE CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS—–
    Specializing in shakedowns. Victims wanted. Inquire within.

  27. I’m pretty surprised that you guys missed the most anti-libertarian angle of this story: the proposal to set aside space for racial minorities was spurred by a private-equity firm owned by – you guessed it – racial minorities. A blatant attempt at rent-seeking, and ironically the WaPo exposes it better than Reason.

  28. Is it now possible for a black person to be “successful” here without the govt. propping them up”?

    Oprah Winfrey.
    Dave Bing.
    Sean Combs.

    The list goes on and on.

  29. This isn’t really an FCC story. It’s more of a “Democratic Congress + Democratic President = really bad scenario” story.

  30. Extortion. Pure and simple.

    And why a congressional caucus based on skin color?

  31. In the cities where whitey is the minority, can the honkeys get similar perks?

    No.

  32. Just approve the merger, you cocksuckers.

  33. Damn, the Congressional Black Caucus soiled themselves.

  34. THe solution remains: abolish the FCC.

    Oh that won’t fly-some here may think that is too radical and therefore would hurt the chances of the libertarian party.

  35. Oh that won’t fly-some here may think that is too radical and therefore would hurt the chances of the libertarian party.

    Some here prefer not to engage in masturbatory fantasies on every thread.

  36. You white male fatcat’s lackies can complain all you want, but we shall never rest until satellite radio also includes, at minimum, dedicated channels for:

    — professional wrestling
    — mime
    — Public Service Announcement golden oldies
    — jingles
    — knock knock jokes
    — random sound effects
    — animal impressions and bird calls

  37. Some here prefer not to engage in masturbatory fantasies on every thread.

    Win!

  38. Just a little preview of President Obama’s FCC policy, not that he’ll admit it before the election….

  39. Just a little preview of President Obama’s FCC policy, not that he’ll admit it before the election…

    Y’know, not all black people think alike, not even if they belong to the same political party.

  40. The Congressional Black Caucus is a fucking joke. Just for fun, if I was ever elected, I would start the Congressional White Caucus, just to piss them off.

  41. Art-P.O.G.,

    whoa, slow down there big fella. It was just recently that some of us crackers realized that you don’t all look alike. Trying to comprehend that you think independantly is just too much to wrap my head around.

    (snark intended)

  42. My plan for abolishing the FCC,
    Auction off ten-year leases on the airwaves. As long as companies pay their rent, they can run whatever they want, or not at all. This should address the “liberal” concern about ownership of all telemedia becoming concentrated in a single company’s hands, since one could try to submit the highest bid in the next auction. Oh, wait, that still might not get enough minorities on the air. Shit.

  43. WAIT! I KNOW HOW TO REALLY PISS THEM OFF! Give Alan Keyes his own radio show. Or, if you want someone who’s not insane, you could ask Walter Williams. Say, Art P.O.G, would you like to be in radio?

  44. I dunno.

    If there are only two companies that do something, and those two companies want to merge, that merger should be blocked (or at least heavily regulated), IMHO. Monopolies, even natural monopolies, are bad for the consumer unless heavily regulated. (Utlities are natural monopolies for the most part, which is why they are heavily regulated.)

    The only question here is should one consider competition from terrestial radio stations, and maybe even iPods, as competition to satellite radio, or not? They aren’t perfect competition, but they do compete.

    In any case, as for the specific quota here, is there enough bandwidth for another satellite company (say, owned by minorities) to begin, or not? I’m thinking not. I think the combined company would keep all of the spectrum the two companies currently use.

    Besides, it’s not like there is shortage of music made by brothers. How hard can it be to set up a few R&B or rap channels run by black people?

  45. Say, Art P.O.G, would you like to be in radio?

    That’s the 3rd nicest question anyone’s ever asked me. If I didn;t keep getting reminded that my ratings were abysmal, yes, I’d like my own radio show. I’d emulate Tavis Smiley, Larry Elder, Walter Williams and William Raspberry.

    And the guest list would be so awesome. And I think I would piss of the Congressional Black Caucus.*

    *Obviously, I’d have no idea how to run a radio program…and this would make it awesome.

  46. MP-

    Were you one of the many in the early 1980s who opined that the dissolution of the Soviet Union was only so much masturbatory fantasy?

    In retrospect, I guess those that uttered that it was just masturbatory fantasy had cum all over their faces.

  47. In retrospect, I guess those that uttered that it was just masturbatory fantasy had cum all over their faces.

    Good try at a comeback, but I believe you came up a little short.

  48. Ha ha, OK Cesar, you can come out of that “liberty mike-bot”.

  49. Why limit the listening stations of minorities? Are you saying that minorities can’t comprehend other stations and should only listen to certain stations? It is time you realize that people are more diverse in what they listen to and there will be over 200 stations too choose from. Why should a company give up a percentage of a business? If the percentage they give up doesn’t produce any revenue or generate any listeners, will you refund the company ? This reaks of an NAB backed witch hunt and is a disgrace to how America is being run. It is more about who has more money and more politicians in their pocket then what is right for the consumer and investor. Did you demand a percentage of gas stations to people when oil companies merge. What happened to going out and earning something as opposed to looking for the hand out? What a disgrace.

  50. MP

    Do you think that it was more improbable, say in 1981, to suggest that the USSR would dissolve within 10 years or to think that the FCC will be off the air within the next 10?

  51. Of course, the FCC is not and never has been about properly managing the “scarce resource” of spectrum for the benefit of the public, but rather about keeping a firm grip on a national choke point: electronic communications. As evidence, consider the modern FCC focus on controlling content in media where there never was a possibility of scarcity.

    Electronic publication is “the press,” as much as ink-on-paper printing presses are. Information and entertainment carried by electronic media is clearly “speech.” The First Amendment, in declaring freedom of speech and press, would seem to prohibit the FCC’s roles as gatekeeper and arbiter of content.

    So why does this organization exist? Because control of the dominant modes of communication is seen as intrinsic to “national security” (i.e., preservation of the established institutions), just as control of energy supplies are. The FCC is an organization that is more at home in a national socialist scheme than in the government of an allegedly “free” nation. For the most part, the FCC needs to be scrapped. Let’s do it, already.

  52. For the most part, the FCC needs to be scrapped. Let’s do it, already.

    I’m in. In spite of my demosnstrably lower intelligence.

  53. lol @ R C Dean

  54. It’s an inescapable fact that whenever the government is involved in something,
    every Tom, Dick and Kwame demands his “right” to a slice of the pie.

  55. Monopolies, even natural monopolies, are bad for the consumer unless heavily regulated.

    Really? Even if the monopoly is selling something that didn’t exist just a few years ago, something that nobody needs, and something that most people don’t even want?

  56. R C Dean-

    Ah ha. Perhaps I misread your test results.

  57. Art-P.O.G., my comment was based not on skin color but on the fact that both the Congressional Black Caucus and Obama are reliable supporters of lefty intervention in such matters. See the Obama press release: FCC Rule Changes Must First Assess and Address Minority Media Ownership.

  58. giving minorities 12 channels makes no sense!
    sirius currently will give any race/color a chance to entertain as long as they can bring ratings. howard has given countless individuals chances to entertain. but just giving minorities 12 channels on satellite with no competition will not encourage rich entertainment. if you are given something for nothing, and no chance of losing it, your not going to work 15 hours a day to give yourself the edge needed.

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