Limiting Local Satellite Radio

Reuters: Broadcasters seek ban on local satellite radio

U.S. radio broadcasters have asked federal regulators to bar rival satellite radio services from offering content tailored to local markets, according to a petition obtained on Friday.

The National Association of Broadcasters, which represents radio conglomerates like Clear Channel Communications Inc. , filed the request due to concerns the up and coming satellite services are trying to replace local radio outlets.

Both XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. now offer traffic and weather for several cities on its national service, but are barred from using ground-based transmitters that extend service into hard-to-reach areas to air programming aimed specifically at a local market.

“This foray into local content is directly contrary to … repeated and express promises that satellite radio service would be limited to delivering national programming to serve the unserved and underserved,” according to the petition filed this week and obtained by Reuters.

NAB said the two companies may also be developing satellite radios that can receive advertisements, news and other content targeting a local market by using Global Positioning Satellite (GPS).

The broadcasters’ group demanded that the Federal Communications Commission, which licenses satellite services, explicitly ban their rivals from using any technology to offer content in one area that is different from another location.

It’s hard to see where limiting choice here would be of any value to anyone other than local station owners. And, frankly, if local stations can’t provide superior local traffic and weather reports than a national satellite service, then they deserve to go out of business. This makes about as much sense as banning DirectTV from showing local network affiliates.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. The irony is: at least XM doesn’t use the local repeaters to broadcast the traffic and weather reports. You can listen to Boston’s traffic in San Diego (or, as I did, listen to Chicago’s traffic southwest of Joliet, where they don’t have the repeaters).

    So even if NAB gets this passed (which they probably won’t), it won’t stop XM from offering local traffic reports.

  2. Ravi Nanavati says:

    My, how quickly things change… I remember the days when DirectTV *was* banned from showing local affiliates.