In comments to the FCC requesting that an HD tuner be included in interoperable satellite radio receivers, Clear Channel lamented that there have not even been modest modifications in local ownership rules to allow AM and FM radio stations to continue to compete effectively. CC reminds the FCC that free radio is of critical importance to the public, particularly in times of emergency, and that the FCC needs to protect its competitive footing; that adoption of HD technology is a critical element of competiveness going forward; and that therefore all satellite receivers need to be able to pick up HD signals.
In the summary of its filing, Clear Channel wrote, “Moreover, the Commission’s harmful decisions to retain without even very modest modification its local radio ownership rules despite evidence of abundant competition and to bless the formation of a monopoly SDARS have severely tilted the market against free local radio, undermining the longstanding policy goals of promoting competitive, locally-focused and diverse audio programming. The magnitude and competitive importance of the spectrum advantage conferred upon Sirius XM by the Commission’s approval of their merger cannot be overstated. Sirius can now provide more than 300 possible channels in every local market, or two to three times the number of channels as all of the local radio broadcast channels (AM and FM) combined in that market.”
RBR/TVBR observation: The HD issue should have been dealt with when the monopoly was granted. But there have been odd moves since. We remember the Ed Markey bill that would require HD capability on satellite receivers, but only when they already have analog AM/FM tuners. We suspect that would lead to a lot of 100% satellite/0% terrestrial receivers. It’s a loophole we think needs to be fixed.