Sunday, March 21, 2004

Satellite Radio

Once upon a time, the US government did not regulate radio. Then, I beleive, some individual decided to broadcast their weekly church sermons at high power, drowning out other nearby broadcasters. They went to court, and the FCC arose to regulate who could broadcast what and where.

Graft followed almost instantly, as local politicians, and their families, were awarded local radio licenses in exchange for solemn promises to serve the public good. In fact, "community standards", "the public good", and "local content" are among the biggest code words for "protection", and they have been a fact of life in American radio for quite some time.

Satellite radio cuts through the poor economics of broadcast media (where advertisers are the primary customer) and charges consumer directly for content, much like cable TV did a few decades ago. The laws once implemented to "protect the public good" by requiring local radio stations to broadcast local content are now being used to prevent satellite radio from broadcasting local content. Absurd indeed.


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