For satellite radio subscribers, the recent Supreme Court decision carries no real impact. After all, satellite radio is uncensored, and Sirius XM talent is free to utter just about anything they want. The Supreme Court decision does have an impact on terrestrial radio though, as it opens a door for fines even for the simple mistake of using a fleeting expletive on the air.
Until now, radio and television broadcasters had a little bit of wiggle room when it came to expletives that were broadcast. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals had found the FCC policy on fines to be arbitrary and capricious. This translated to some leniency on certain cases. The Supreme Court decision overturned the appeals court and put the power back with the FCC regarding expletives.
The National Association of Broadcasters Dennis Wharton stated, “Regardless of today’s opinion, broadcasters will continue to offer programming that is reflective of the diverse communities we serve. Nonetheless, we’re disappointed the court majority seemingly failed to understand the need for clear and consistent regulatory policies, especially in light of the various ways audiences now receive broadcast programming. We continue to believe that voluntary self regulation — coupled with blocking technologies like the V-chip — is far preferable to government regulation of program content, and we question why speech restrictions should apply only to broadcasters.”
Clearly the NAB is referring to other media forms in use by consumers today. Cable, satellite radio and satellite television do not have the same constraints as over the air broadcasters, and this is indeed one of the challenges that NAB members face going forward.
Yet another reason to have satellite radio.
Position – Long Sirius XM