Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, May 15, 2021

Yes, XM Satellite Radio’s decision to hand down a 30-day suspension to Opie and Anthony over their latest racist/sexist crudefest is evidence that shock-jockery is no safer on unregulated satellite broadcasts than it is on the old-fashioned terrestrial waves.

But there are more complex reasons behind XM’s move (even though it ultimately comes down to the cha-ching):

The fact that XM was willing to suspend Opie and Anthony is proof that offensive programming could hurt even satellite radio, a medium that does not depend on advertising dollars as free radio does. XM and Sirius do have to worry about losing subscribers if shock jocks go too far.

The suspension also demonstrates how scared the satellite radio companies are of looking like the poster children for bad behavior at a time when XM and Sirius will depend on the goodwill of the government to green-light their merger.

Actually, I think more concern is addressed toward the latter factor than the former. More subscribers probably will drop XM in the wake of this suspension, than would theoretically leave if the everyday content got too risque.

This is an example of industry self-censorship: The instance of a private concern preemptively taking corrective action against itself, in order to stave off actual governmental intervention. It’s more alarming than if the government were to get involved, as it eliminates the popular-will element (or at least defers it; the paying customers can make their feelings known later, when it comes time to renew subscriptions).

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 05/15/2007 11:43:07 PM
Category: Business, Radio
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