FCC: no regs for sat radio

Stern can let loose on Sirius airwaves

NEW YORK — Howard Stern, go ahead and be lewd until you turn blue — once you get to Sirius Satellite Radio.

The Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday that broadcast indecency rules don’t apply to satellite radio, which is where Stern is bolting to after coming under fierce fire from the FCC’s indecency patrol on the broadcast airwaves.

In a one-page letter, FCC media bureau chief Ken Ferree said the agency does not “impose regulations regarding indecency on services lacking the indiscriminate access to children that characterizes broadcasting.” Satellite radio is a subscription service, period.

Some Capitol Hill lawmakers and parents groups want to extend indecency rules to cable and satellite, but the FCC’s position on sat radio suggests that it believes only broadcast can be regulated.

That mindset could change, of course, if Congress were to pass legislation that would allow the regulation of subscription television and radio services.

Ferree’s comments came in response to a petition filed by Los Angeles-based Mount Wilson FM Broadcasters, which argued that satellite radio should be regulated when it comes to indecent content. Otherwise, the org maintains, radio broadcasters are at an inherent disadvantage.

Saul Levin, who heads up the Mount Wilson group, filed the request after Stern announced he would move to Sirius once his contract with Infinity Radio expires at the end of 2005.

Sirius closed down 3.77% at $7.65 in Wednesday trading on the Nasdaq.

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