The XM/Sirius Merger: Should Indecency Rules Apply to Satellite Radio?

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The XM/Sirius Merger: Should Indecency Rules Apply to Satellite Radio?

Thu Mar 27, 2008 @ 03:52PM PST

Posted by Eriq Gardner

Swearing_2 Now that the Justice Department has given its approval to  the merger between Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio, one terrestrial competitor has figured out a novel way to undercut the potential behemoth: Wash their mouths out with soap.

Clear Channel has taken time from its busy schedule being involved in litigation stemming from the $19 billion buyout that went bad, to ask the FCC to make XM/Sirius stop swearing.

"One of the primary potential dangers to free, over-the-air radio posed by this merger is siphoning popular, including 'edgy' content, with consequent loss of advertising revenue," Clear Channel wrote to the FCC on March 11th. "That potential harm is mitigated if broadcast decency rules were to apply to the merged entity. There is no constitutional bar to such a condition."

Interesting strategy, but if Clear Channel thinks that satellite radio's biggest advantage is cussing, wouldn't it be better served to join the fight to loosen FCC indecency rules?

Like Fox Broadcasting is doing. The Murdoch company says it will refuse to pay a $91,000 indecency fine levied by the FCC for a 2003 episode of "Married by America," which featured digitally obscured nudity and whipped-cream-covered strippers. Typically, a broadcaster pays the fine, and sometimes appeals after the check is cut. This time, as the Supreme Court gears up to hear an important case on indecency on the airwaves, Fox has decided to make a much bolder statement.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to

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