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Radio b’casters urge bird cage

Lobbyist demands investigation into XM, Sirius

Satellite radio dodges Federal Communications Commission regulations, enjoys a possibly unjustifiable advantage over its terrestrial competitors and should be investigated by the feds, the nation’s top broadcast lobbyist claimed Tuesday.

In a pair of letters to the FCC, National Assn. of Broadcasters president David Rehr said satcasters XM and Sirius exercise a “persistent corporate circumvention of the FCC’s regulations” concerning terrestrial repeater networks. Rehr called on the agency to conduct “an immediate investigation.”

Rehr also implicitly disputed the so-called invited guest theory that since satellite radio is subscription-based, it is not subject to broadcast regs, which include indecency standards. Pointing to XM’s deal with at least one automaker that makes the service temporarily free to buyers of certain used cars and also shock jock Howard Stern’s show on Sirius now available free over the Internet, Rehr argued that “drawing a regulatory distinction between satellite and traditional broadcast radio simply because satellite radio content is available on a subscription basis may no longer be justified.”

Replied Nathaniel Brown, senior VP for corporate communications at XM, “NAB’s sole interest here is in trying to hamper competing services that offer consumers compelling choices that terrestrial radio can’t provide.”

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