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11:22am on Sunday the 22nd of September
WHEN I FIND MYSELF AGREEING WITH THE LA [CENSORED] TIMES...
The Federal Communications Commission has been an increasingly zealous regulator of radio and TV programming, handing down recordsetting fines while pushing Congress for more control. Its eagerness to censor casts a shadow over not just free radio and TV but also subscription audio and video channels whose programming falls outside the FCC's authority.

Why? Because companies in virtually every communications medium need the FCC's approval for some aspect of their business. So they muzzle themselves, or risk having a competitor seize upon a bit of offensive or indecent programming in the hope of turning the FCC against them. Either way, the commissioners' nanny-state ambitions have a chilling effect on free speech that reaches past the limits of their regulatory power.

The latest example is XM Satellite Radio's decision to suspend the shock jocks who host the popular "Opie & Anthony Show." Earlier this month, a supposedly homeless guest on the show said he wanted to rape Laura Bush, Condoleezza Rice and Queen Elizabeth II. [Editor's Note: Charlie never said he wanted to rape Queen Elizabeth. Nitpicking, I know.]

...As the uproar continued, Opie and Anthony complained of being "under the same scrutiny as NPR." XM responded by suspending the pair for 30 days "to make clear that our on-air talent must take seriously the responsibility that creative freedom requires of them."

Maybe XM's management has little patience for insubordination. Many of XM's subscribers, advertisers and financial analysts, however, thought that the company's stern message was aimed at the FCC, not its employees. Hemorrhaging money, XM wants to merge with satellite-radio competitor Sirius but needs the commission's approval...

Subscribers can tell XM when its hosts cross the line, and it can govern itself accordingly. But the commission's intrusions into programming make it impossible to tell whether the line crossed was XM's or the FCC's.
LA Times editorial digg this
I repeat: This is not just about two idiots on the radio. (Actually it's about three idiots, but that's not what I mean.)
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