Net neutrality being such a hot issue right now, we haven’t had a chance lately to agree with our friends at Public Knowledge. But when we do agree, we really agree. (Speaking for myself, that includes orphan works and fair use.) Today PK President Gigi Sohn blogs about the XM-Sirius merger and opposition to it by the NAB. The post is too good to excerpt only a piece, so here it is in its entirety–under a Creative Commons license, of course.
How is it that the National Association of Broadcasters, which is seeking regulatory relief from current media ownership caps, has the gumption to criticize the proposed merger of XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio? Their statement following the announced merger can be found here, but this is the part I like best:When the FCC authorized satellite radio, it specifically found that the public would be served best by two competitive nationwide systems. Now, with their stock price at rock bottom and their business model in disarray…they seek a government bail-out to avoid competing in the marketplace.If any industry knows how to “seek a government bail-out to avoid competing in the marketplace,” it is the broadcast industry. What is “must carry,” other than a government-granted cable-carriage easement for broadcasters? What is exclusive, free licensing of spectrum, other than government-granted protection from auctions and unlicensed uses of the public airwaves?
And what is the recently introduced, NAB-backed H.R. 983, the “Local Emergency Radio Service Act of 2007”? That bill seeks to limit local programming on satellite broadcast radio, including the provision of weather, traffic and emergency information, and puts the FCC in charge of exploring, for examplethe impact of locally oriented satellite radio services on the viability of local radio broadcast stations and their ability to provide news and other services to the public.Setting aside the question of whether “local” broadcasters really take seriously their responsibility of serving their local communities with news and public affairs programming (not just traffic and weather), why shouldn’t other media be able to compete with broadcasters for the local viewer or listener? Isn’t H.R. 983 just another “government bail-out” for broadcasters? I think I hear the rattle of stones against the NAB’s glass house.