Uncreative Destruction

by on August 27, 2004

While running television ads in Washington, D.C. to show what a swell bunch of people they are, the National Association of Broadcasters have been running an aggressive campaign to squeeze out the latest threat to local broadcasters, satellite radio providers XM and Sirius. The problem, it seems, is that XM has been offering its subscribers useful information about local traffic and weather conditions. The local broadcasters view this as a major transgression, and have cried foul to the FCC. Because of previous regulatory barriers inspired by local broadcasters, XM Radio is restricted to national programming. XM’s solution is to provide local forecasts on a national basis. While it may be inefficient to provide listeners in L.A. up-to-date information on traffic jams in Manhattan, it’s the only way around the existing rules. Local broadcasters have petitioned the FCC and have also played the homeland security card in an effort to keep satellite providers out of local markets. Scott Woolley provides a full account at Forbes.com.

With a digital signal and over a hundred channels to satisfy every market niche, satellite radio provides an appealing alternative to the set playlists of FM radio for many listeners. Car manufacturers are beginning ot offer satellite radio in their new cars, which may help boost the market.

Local broadcasters may have a new ally in their battle against satellite radio. In a move that has XM nervous and the RIAA “disturbed”, NeroSoft has released TimeTrax. When XM radio is used in conjunction with a PC, TimeTrax allows the user to save broadcasts as MP3s, which are tagged with title and artist information. Concert recordings are automatically edited into indivdiual tracks. Users can also set their PCs to troll for particular songs or artists that will be saved whenever they are played. XM does not condone this software and the RIAA is examining the copyright implications.

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