Policy

Satellite-Radio Ruling a Break for Cable

12/15/2004 7:27 AM Eastern

The Federal Communications Commission Wednesday refused to launch a rulemaking regarding the application of broadcast-indecency rules to subscription satellite-radio services.

The FCC’s decision, issued by Media Bureau chief Kenneth Ferree, was a boon for cable because the extension of indecency rules to pay radio could have set the stage for spreading them to pay TV providers.

In his one-page decision, Ferree told Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters Inc. -- a traditional radio company that sought the rulemaking -- that the agency had previously ruled that “subscription-based services do not call into play the issue of indecency.”

Further, Ferree explained, “Consistent with existing case law, the [FCC] does not impose regulations regarding indecency on services lacking the indiscriminate access to children that characterizes broadcasting.”

As a result, Ferree said, the Mt. Wilson “petition does not provide a basis to revisit that determination.”

Mt. Wilson asked the FCC for the rulemaking in response to shock jock Howard Stern’s decision to join Sirius Satellite Radio Holdings Inc.

Mt. Wilson president Saul Levine said he was troubled by Stern’s taunts that he would use his satellite-radio platform to bury the old radio business.

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