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"If XM and Sirius want to provide traditional over-the-air radio service, they should apply for over-the-air licenses like everyone else. Otherwise, they are making a mockery of FCC rules and regulations."
—–NAB President/CEO Edward Fritts
NAB: SATELLITE OF, WELL, NOT LOVE
National Association of Broadcasters Opposes XM, Sirius Requests For Transmitters
The National Association of Broadcasters has filed papers with the FCC outlining its opposition to requests by satellite radio entities XM and Sirius for terrestrial transmitters, according to a Webnoize report.

Hey, wake up! This is vital news about… um… well, now that you mention it, we feel kinda drowsy ourselves.

Coffee? Excellent. Ahhhhh. Okay.

Both XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio have announced plans to launch their auto-based, digital-radio sub services (at $9.95 and $12.95 per month, respectively) by year’s end; ideally, motorists on cross-country trips would be able to enjoy such services throughout their journeys.

The two satellite players (both of which have been favored by heavy auto-industry investment) had asked the FCC to greenlight over 900 "signal repeaters" for continuity across areas with spotty satellite reception. NAB, on the other hand, feels that such special technical assistance interferes with terrestrial radio’s turf.

"If XM and Sirius want to provide traditional over-the-air radio service," reads a quote from NAB President/CEO Edward Fritts, "they should apply for over-the-air licenses like everyone else. Otherwise, they are making a mockery of FCC rules and regulations."

The broadcasters fear that local signal repeaters could be used to convey local content (such as market-specific ads) that would unfairly compete with traditional radio and even hijack local-market ad revenue. While nothing prevents the satellites from doing this, their marketing angle thus far has focused on being a nationwide service.

NAB’s complaint articulates the fear that "extensive terrestrial digital radio networks have the potential to operate totally divorced of the satellite transmissions systems they supposedly complement."

Sirius and XM both pooh-poohed this latest filing, arguing that the repeaters would not put different programming in different markets and therefore had nothing to do with terrestrial radio. "Our position on this has been consistent from the time we received our FCC license for satellite radio in 1997," reads the Sirius riposte. Both companies had their licenses approved by the FCC that year.

"There’s nothing new here at all," XM VP of Corporate Affairs Chance Patterson told Webnoize, who quieted fears of interference with local radio.

Why, you’d hardly know these two companies were in competition.

The FCC has been slow to question the satellite radio firms’ plans for the repeaters, which is amazing, considering how on-the-ball they’ve been about protecting consumers from unfair competition and monopolistic media consolidation.

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