I like alien radio. Here’s why.

Witness the actions of a dinosaur:

The radio wars are escalating. In a one-two punch aimed at enlisting regulators to their cause, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and National Public Radio want the Federal Communications Commission to investigate alleged misdeeds by satellite radio companies XM (XMSR) and Sirius (SIRI).

In its second claim, the NAB contends that XM and Sirius shouldn’t be allowed to give away their products for free to new car buyers or online. Last week, Sirius streamed Howard Stern’s program for free on its Web site.

The NAB argues that such freebies ought to subject satellite radio to the same FCC regulations as those governing terrestrial radio. That likely would trigger restrictions, for example, on language and other racy content.

If you can’t beat them, force them to join you? I don’t recall learning that maxim in business school. Yet, that’s exactly the perversity unleashed by regulation. The NAB’s members roll over and play dead every time the FCC yells Bang!, so it expects satellite broadcasters to do the same. They’re imbeciles. People don’t have to consume satellite radio, even when it’s free. They don’t have to consume terrestrial radio, either, which is what the NAB seems to miss in bowing before legislators instead of customers.

I won’t be surprised if the FCC takes action, though XM and Sirius will clearly fight back if it does since they’re businesses are on the line. But the NAB’s complaint leads to an obvious, and chilling, conclusion. If we’re going to take its claim as valid, that would open every podcaster to FCC regulation if he allows his customers to download his podcast for free. I’ll take my liberty in maximum strength tablets, not children’s chewables. Liberty for all, including customers.

One thought on “I like alien radio. Here’s why.”

  1. The original justification for FCC censorship/control/allocation/licensing/whatever of broadcasting was that the airwaves were finite (and also non-excludable) and therefore should be held “in public trust,” much like coastline and coastal waters.
    But that argument did not hold for, e.g., cable television or the Internet, and does not hold for satellite radio.
    So what, exactly, is their excuse now?

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