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Musings and Meanderings

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Radio Rant

In the old days, when a product or service made by one company or industry, began to loose market share to a newer or better product or service, that company or industry would design a better product or service or go out of business.

But not today! Not in an America where Big Business practically owns the White House. Not in a day when Clear Channel contributes so much to the Republican Party.

Specifically I am referring to the fact that The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the organization that represents the large radio and television owners, is using its lobbyists, campaign contributions and political influence to have Congress and the Federal Communications Commission limit XM Radio's ability to provide listeners with "locally oriented" content, including the new XM Instant Traffic & Weather channels and Sirius' just signed deal with the NFL to offer regionalized football coverage.

The broadcasters feel threatened by the success of satellite radio. Instead of competing and improving their services, they want the government to protect their businesses by attacking satellite radio. This same group has tried to block every innovative technology that has been warmly welcomed into America's homes and cars. In the 1940's, radio broadcasters tried to squash television. In the 1970's, AM broadcasters tried to put the kibosh on FM stations. They never win and they never learn.

For a very intelligent analysis of local vs satellite broadcast I highly recommend this article from the Cato Institute: All Politics is Local: How Broadcasters Want to Silence Satellite Radio.

No matter where you live, I ask you one question. Have you listened to radio recently? The industry is very ill. Part of it is because the Music Industry is dying a slow death of Boy Bands and Glam Girls. But changes in the FCC rulings regarding the percentage of stations that one company can own in a market have created a bland, tasteless and uninteresting aural landscape. I'm sure many of you remember "progressive" FM radio stations. Now a day's I challenge you to find more than one, and in many markets, even one, station that shows challenging, interesting, or progressive programming.

(Note I don't mean Prog music genre, I mean Progressive programming)

So along comes Sirius & XM radio and does something very daring. They play interesting music. XM offers 70+ Commercial Free music stations for a monthly fee. You can listen to anything you like, and I won't wax on it here, as I have mentioned it many times. XM and Sirius are eroding local radio market share. But the NAB could do nothing about it until they began to expand their programming to these so called "localized coverage" issues.

It is just another example of today's society, where finger pointing is much easier than making a change. We are a society of blamers. Just remember when you point your finger at me, you have three more fingers pointing back at you.
posted by Mike 11:12 PM


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The musings and meanderings of an overworked and underemployed mind