I wrote a few weeks ago that Sirius would not carry Howard Stern on its Canadian service due to decency standards in Canada revolving around the country having no equivalent to our First Amendment. It’s embarrassing that a democracy in the 21st century has no guaranteed free speech, but at least it gives us some perspective on how much worse our situation could be. Unless our courts decide not to be activist or legislate from the bench and allow Congress to pass laws restricting pay content. But I digress. Yesterday, Sirius Canada announced that it would begin airing Howard Stern’s radio show beginning Monday.
“It’s no secret that Howard Stern’s programming is not consistent with the kind of programming you would find on CBC/Radio Canada’s airwaves, but this is a Sirius Canada decision,” said CBC spokesman Jason MacDonald.
The subscription-based network is 40 per cent owned by the CBC, 40 per cent by Standard Radio and 20 per cent by Sirius in the United States.
“Sirius Canada is a separate company,” noted MacDonald.
“Yes, we’re partners and Sirius Canada made the decision that was right for it based on what the market demands.”
This is obviously a triumph for free speech and free markets in Canada, but I don’t know how long it’ll last. Stern said as much yesterday. He was joking, but this makes me wonder:
[MacDonald] said new technology that allows Sirius Canada subscribers to block out Stern if they so choose was a significant factor in finalizing the deal.
Sirius Canada has said it does not expect Stern to run into censorship trouble this time because his satellite show is a pay service.
“It’s really up to the public to decide whether it wants to submit a complaint, regardless of the fact that it’s a service that is purchasable,” says CRTC spokeswoman Miriam Gennaro.
She couldn’t immediately say, however, whether different standards will apply to satellite radio.
I know Ted Stevens, Brent Bozell, and James Dobson would love to implement such a scheme in the United States, but I’m thankful the First Amendment says what it says. Now, if we just convince those non-“activist” judges to read it with the same deference to the text they would apply to any more favored portion of the Constitution. I know that’s crazy talk, but I can dream, right?