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XM Satellite Radio Backlash 594

mrchubbs writes "Sponsors and subscribers to XM Radio are protesting the decision by XM management to suspend the Opie and Anthony show for comments made on an uncensored channel. Subscribers are canceling subscriptions — some estimate that between 20,000 and 40,000 have cancelled. Some are even smashing their radios in protest. Sponsors are pulling ads. Also, there is some evidence of XM not honoring cancellation requests, forcing multiple calls to finally get accounts canceled." Of course this dispute isn't a free-speech issue. "Free speech" refers to a prohibition on censorship by the government; XM is free to do as it wishes with the content it broadcasts, within the law.
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XM Satellite Radio Backlash

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  • Response (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Oligonicella ( 659917 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @08:06AM (#19197325)
    And, as The Dixie Chicks found out, the public is free to respond as they see fit.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      This is certainly not a troll. Corporate censors need only answer to their customers. The Dixie Chicks are the perfect example. They made comments that offended people, those people stopped buying records. Radio stations stopped playing them because people were mad at them. The Grammys are certainly not given by "the people" but rather by the RIAA that everybody here claims to hate. It was given to them as a political statement, rather than a reflection of their album being the best. (note: I like th
      • Re:Response (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20, 2007 @10:08AM (#19197993)

        They made comments that offended people, those people stopped buying records.
        I would take that one step further. The Dixie Chicks made comments that offended people that were already consumers of their music. Its a minor problem if you offend people who are not going to buy your product anyway, but its an entirely different issue if you offend your core consumer group.

        I think XM did the same thing. People who didn't care much for Opie and Anthony were the ones offended, not the fans of the show. In responding to complaints of consumers that don't (and likely will never) listen to the show, XM did more damage to their company by angering the people actually paying to listen. I would imagine the same thing would happen to SIRIUS if they suspended Howard Stern. Its great to placate the hurt feelings of others, but not at the expense of your current consumer base. XM is now in a position where people who didn't listen to Opie and Anthony are still not paying for the XM product, while people who did listen are also deciding not to pay for the XM product anymore. Oops.
        • Re:Response (Score:5, Insightful)

          by BakaHoushi ( 786009 ) <> on Sunday May 20, 2007 @12:09PM (#19198755) Homepage
          At this point, I'm reminded of that Imus guy, or whatever his name is. That white trash old conservative radio host that made all those comments about some black girls basketball team. The thing was, yes, IMHO, he was a racist old coot. Essentially, he was what happens when you give that ranting old "GET OFF MY LAWN!" type his own radio show.

          The thing is, that's what he was HIRED for. He was there to appeal to other like-minded old coots. The basketball team he offended didn't actually seem to care about what he said at first. Why should they? They're about my age, and if they're anything like me even remotely, they hadn't even heard of the guy before. And I'm pretty sure his regular listeners weren't offended. The only real explanation seems to be people who don't like him but know about him got offended. So, why should that have mattered?

          At this point, would someone hire Ann Coulter without expecting her to suggest that raping, killing, and forcing religion onto some ethnic/religious/political group is not the solution to all the world's problems? Would someone hire Al Sharpton without expecting him to blame all the world's problems on racism and inequality between races?

          Extremists exists on all sides, and when you hire them, you have to realize some people are going to be offended. Heck, even the not-so-extremes will still be faced by SOME outrage. But the question is, is this outrage from your target audience? If I said sliced bread sucks, should slashdot ban me under pressure from the sliced-bread lobby? My guess is that the two demographics have little overlapping.

          So, this is a roundabout way of saying, longtime Opie and Anthony fans probably know that this is how they act on the show, and likely didn't care. The people who DO care don't listen to XM radio to begin with. So, where exactly was the problem?
          • Re:Response (Score:5, Insightful)

            by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @12:28PM (#19198857) Journal
            The problem, of course, was that XM promoted the service as having uncensored talk radio, then failed to honour the service they advertised, which means they dealt with their customer base in a fraudulent fashion.

            Personally, I've never seen or known of anyone with an XM radio who wasn't driving a taxi, and I've never heard anything come out of the many taxi-installed XM radios but talk.

            XM fucked up big time. Class action lawsuit?
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 )
              Any chance you stupid bastards might stop accepting submissions that require registration to read?
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Jaysyn ( 203771 )
              It's been said that XM censored Opie & Andie because they didn't want any boat rocking in Congress while they attempted to merge with Sirius Radio.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mrbooze ( 49713 )
        No, people did not stop buying Dixie Chicks records. Country Radio collectively simply banned them.

        Which, really, is funny. The Dixie Chicks are hardly the first liberal country artist. It's interesting how, say, Willie Nelson or Steve Earle aren't banned. It's almost lke the *real* problem is that the official country market just doesn't like uppity women.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        This is certainly not a troll. Corporate censors need only answer to their customers. The Dixie Chicks are the perfect example. They made comments that offended people, those people stopped buying records. Radio stations stopped playing them because people were mad at them.

        You only got one thing right, the Dixie Chicks are a perfect example of corporate censorship aimed at stifling freedom of speech: tml []
        Country station KKCS, in Colorado Springs, has suspended two of its disc jockeys for putting the Chicks back on the air, in violation of a ban imposed after the group criticized President George W. Bush.
        Lead singer Natalie Maines said during a March concert in London that she was "ashamed the President of the United States is

    • I actually saw the movie, then went online and got some more information from the other point of view.. only to find there wasn't really any.

      I think way too many people reacted to that whole thing, as well as to the movie, as being about 'freedom of speech'. Even Natalie herself did, to an extent, at one point (after which she calls Bush a "Dumb Fuck", for those who have seen the movie and needed the pointer). However, throughout the movie there was never once a strong "this is freedom of speech! why are p
  • by bigtallmofo ( 695287 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @08:09AM (#19197349)
    That's why I performed the ultimate protest and never signed up with them in the first place.

    I'm glad this situation validates my accidental act of protest.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Other things wrong with XM they need to boost their signal, illegally, with terrestrial transmiters which operate at greater power than is allowed by the FCC. They don't have the NFL, and lost Nascar. I'm looking pretty smart for buying Sirius stock early. (Although I must confess that was entirely based on their exclusive NFL deal). Not that Opie and Anthony don't suck, they do, they sucked on terrestrial radio, and they suck from space. And not because they're contraversial, no, they just suck. But
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tylernt ( 581794 )

        Other things wrong with XM they need to boost their signal, illegally
        That, and the crappy low bitrates that makes everything sound like an MP3 pirated from Napster in 2000.
  • by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @08:11AM (#19197355)
    Problems with XM? Surely you can't be Sirius. ;-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20, 2007 @08:13AM (#19197369)
    Password: slashdot

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BinBoy ( 164798 )
      If you support the right of adults to pay for and listen to whatever speech they want, I strongly suggest creating your own account to add to their numbers and join in the fun.
      • by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @09:12AM (#19197701) Homepage
        Why does the toerag editor have to come in and assure us that this is not a free speech issue?

        Free speech is not merely the absence of censorship. That is why we built the Web in the first place. A world where only Robert Maxwell and Rupert Murdoch have a voice is not a world of free speech.

        There are only two satelite radio systems and there will soon only be one. Even if you are Bill Gates you cannot set up your own because they require a license for the radio band.

        So censorship by XM is certainly a free speech issue even if you beleive that only censorship by governments count.

        In reality most repressive governments end up outsourcing their censorship. That is how it happens in Iran most of the time. In Russia the Putin regime makes sure that only its allies get to keep a radio or TV license.

        This is of course a result of the defenstration of Imus for his racist remarks. Of course Glen Back and Bill O'Riely still spew their filth every day. And the talking heads on the cable networks see absolutely no contradiction between accusing the blogosphere of being 'angry' and 'hate filled', then interviewing someone like Ann Coulter who has just written a book accusing liberals of treason.

        The difference between the Opie/Anthony and Imus situations is that Imus targeted a bunch of college kids with racial abuse. Opie and Anthony made fun of three powerful women, all of whom are fair game.

        • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @10:24AM (#19198069) Journal

          Why does the toerag editor have to come in and assure us that this is not a free speech issue?
          The editor is from the USA. The first amendment to the constitution of the USA states:

          Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
          When this amendment was added, along with the others that are collectively referred to as 'The Bill of Rights,' there was some resistance to the idea of this enumeration of rights, since some felt that it would be regarded as a list of all rights that people had, rather than a list of a subset of those rights. This seems to have been the case, since it is fairly common amongst the contemporary US population to regard the Bill of Rights as enumerating all rights.

          The editor obviously confuses the right to free speech granted by the constitution (that the federal government won't infringe the right of free speech) as being synonymous with the abstract concept of free speech. It's clear from the wording that the drafters of the constitution were aware that the right itself and the protection afforded by the constitution were synonymous, however this seems to have been lost somewhere.

          Censorship is a free speech issue, no matter who is performing the censorship. Whether it's the federal or state government, or a private corporation, preventing people exercising the right to free speech makes no difference. The only difference is that it's only a constitutional matter if the federal government is involved.

          (Disclaimer: I am not an American, nor a lawyer)

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Myopic ( 18616 )
            (Disclaimer: I am not an American, nor a lawyer)

            Yes, it is clear that you are not American and not acquainted in American law. The reason this isn't a free speech issue per se is that there are two speakers here each attempting to assert themselves. The first speaker is Opie and Anthony, who want to say something controversial; the second speaker is their employer, the owner of the forum (XM radio), who wants to say that the controversial thing is bad. These two speakers' rights are opposed in this case; yo
        • by bockelboy ( 824282 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @01:05PM (#19199073)

          Free speech is not merely the absence of censorship. That is why we built the Web in the first place.
          Gee, I always thought that we built the web so physicists could more easily collaborate and exchange data at CERN and other laboratories.

          Silly me.
  • by MrP- ( 45616 ) <jessica AT supjessica DOT com> on Sunday May 20, 2007 @08:13AM (#19197375) []
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @08:15AM (#19197379) Homepage
    And things are happening just exactly as they should! It's a free enterprise system and people are voting with their dollars exactly as they should. I'm really happy to see the enormous backlash even if I am a little surprised by it.

    Cable TV was supposed to deliver the kind of raw material that the public craves. It wasn't able to sustain it. Satelite radio is supposed to deliver the kind of raw material that the public craves. It has been delivering but the moment someone decides "too far" then they are removing the key value that the public craves.

    They should either reverse their decision immediately (for the sake of stock holders!) or go out of business. They no longer offer on their hype and promise... now they are just another radio source and as such, has nothing to offer over terrestrial radio.

    (I felt the same way when Dell outsourced its support to other nations... Dell said "everyone's doing it" and I replied, "but that's the advantage Dell had over all the others...their last unique value and now it's gone!")
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )
      Cable TV was supposed to deliver the kind of raw material that the public craves.

      No no no, you got that way wrong. that is what they promised but it is not what they ever intended to do.
      Cable Tv was started because a few men with lots of money to invest saw a cash cow sitting there. They promised Advertising free, they broke that promise the second someone showed up with a bag of money wanting to put Ad's on the channels.

      Everyone listens to the promises these marketing people make, Companies never honor t
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by westlake ( 615356 )
        Cable Tv was started because a few men with lots of money to invest saw a cash cow sitting there. They promised Advertising free, they broke that promise the second someone showed up with a bag of money wanting to put Ad's on the channels.

        The cost of making a one-hour drama episode has tripled in the last 15 years from about $1m in the early 1990s to $2.7m, according to some studio executives. Costs of thirty-minute comedies have also spiralled to $1.5m from around $700,000. Quality TV squeezes networks []

    • by Fear the Clam ( 230933 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @09:42AM (#19197839)
      Cable TV was supposed to deliver the kind of raw material that the public craves.

      It's got electrolytes.
  • by Scott Lockwood ( 218839 ) * on Sunday May 20, 2007 @08:20AM (#19197417) Homepage Journal
    It's called "Vote with your feet". Perhaps if the people at XM would do what these people have asked, namely, admit their mistake, and put O&A back on the air, then things would be different. As it stands, this is unlikely, and thus, XM's survivability is also unlikely.
    • Still, aren't there a couple HUNDRED other channels on XM that one could listen to besides the O&A show? It's like canceling your cable because of bad reruns of the Rosanne show or something that "offended" you on the Colbert Report. Just change the channel, people. If nobody listens to that channel, it'll get canceled eventually.
      • It's like canceling your cable because of bad reruns of the Rosanne show or something that "offended" you on the Colbert Report.
        Whoa there ... let's not mislead anyone into thinking that there are good reruns of Rosanne out there or that Stephen Colbert can do anything wrong. Offensive statements like that could get you banned from the intertubes or even XM Radio.
      • by avdp ( 22065 ) *
        Actually, no. It's not at all the same. The cable company is just the carrier of the crappy programs, they don't produce it and have no input on content. XM is the carrier and also produces the stuff. Opie & Anthony work for them. IF you disagree with what XM (or Opie & Anthony) has done, it's entirely appropriate response to cancel your service.
      • Are you suggesting that one could just change the channel and get quality commentary as good as that on the Colbert Report?
        • Are you suggesting that one could just change the channel and get quality commentary as good as that on the Colbert Report?

          No, the only other place you can get quality commentary as good as the Colbert Report is on the same channel, but a half hour earlier...
  • by RobotRunAmok ( 595286 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @08:27AM (#19197437)
    Calling the channel "Uncensored" is a marketing ploy. Every workplace -- especially radio stations -- have limitations. XM logically figured that an impromptu bit of business in which the US Secretery of State is raped crossed those limitations, particularly since XM's uber-management is in the process of calling in every US government favor it has to grease the skids for a clearly lucrative merger with their lone competitor, Sirius.

    It fascinates me that this is framed as a "Free Speech" issue. The airwaves that XM uses aren't of the public variety, it has nothing to do with constitutional amendments.

    You know, for a generation raised on digital music, you sure all get caught in the same groove, sounding like broken records, a lot.
    • by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @08:50AM (#19197597)

      You know, for a generation raised on digital music, you sure all get caught in the same groove, sounding like broken records, a lot.
      Please refrain from analog analogies. Surely you meant to say something along the lines of "You know, for a generation raised on digital music, you sure all report the same sector as bad, a lot" or maybe even "share the same invalid address space, a lot".
    • by Therlin ( 126989 )
      I'm not a fan of those guys (I don't think they are funny) and I still have my XM subscription. But I gotta defend them here. As far as I know, they never said that they would rape Rice or (Laura Bush or the Queen of England, both of them also mentioned.) A homeless person went on the show and said that he would "love to fuck that bitch." That's it. You can start making deductions and say that Opie and Anthony wanted to rape Rice. But that's not what was said. []
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by dc212 ( 573966 )
        What you're leaving out is while he was saying that Opie and Anthony were joking that they would hold her down and punch her in the face. I don't know about you, but that's pretty far over the line - even for an "uncensored" show.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It fascinates me that this is framed as a "Free Speech" issue.

      It fascinates me that people insist that their free speech right is only to be protected from the government, as if it's perfectly ok for someone else to come along and violate them at will.

      Just about every other right people believe they have is protected by law: right to life and liberty (murder and unlawful imprisonment), right against search and seizure (theft, robbery) and quartering others against your will (trespass). Hell, we even have l
    • It fascinates me that this is framed as a "Free Speech" issue. The airwaves that XM uses aren't of the public variety, it has nothing to do with constitutional amendments.

      Free speech is not just applicable to public venues. Consider the old chestnut about yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. The theater is not a public venue, yet you do not have theright of free speech to yell "fire" at will (unless, of course, there really is a fire).

      Free speech is not absolute, if it were, the SCOTUS would have no

  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @08:29AM (#19197451) Homepage Journal
    in a very roundabout way. The reason XM suspended the show is mainly out of financial self interest; they were afraid that if it seemed like they condoned this type of behavior they would be sued, and they are probably right. The fact that they can be sued over something this banal is the fault of the government. The government can get away with making people afraid to say what they want(no matter how dumb it may be) without directly abridging someone's first amendment rights by awarding huge law suits to whomever feels offended enough to sue. It's still government censorship, but with a better disguise.
  • It's insanely funny that these are the poster boys. I can't wait to hear the crickets chirp once XM decides it can have 26 minutes of advertising each hour like regular radio. I think XM's got us exactly where they want us.
  • this just goes to show how completely retarded the management + opie n anthony show really were. They found a way to get kicked off of an uncensored channel... how dumb do you have to be to have that happen to you? Talk about lack of faith from management!
  • by fontkick ( 788075 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @08:38AM (#19197505)
    This happened to me... XM is definitely messing with people's accounts. I canceled my service about a year ago, but a few months after canceling they started charging my card again. I can't think of a worse way to treat a customer. If someone charges your card out of the blue just because they have your account info, they are committing credit card fraud.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dattaway ( 3088 )
      I had the same problem canceling with Vonage. Since I took every reasonable step to cancel, I called my card company and gave them the information to document my problem. I was contacted the next day for clarification of the problem and was properly reimbursed for my expenses and time.

      Companies who cheat do NOT want to lose their merchant accounts. Card companies are not amused when a large percentage of customers are cheated. The card companies know where their profits come from and it doesn't come fro
    • by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @09:45AM (#19197851) Homepage Journal
      Yes, ditto on the suggestion to contest it with your card company. If you've already made a good-faith effort to settle it with XM, then contest the transaction every month and it should be reversed. Every chargeback costs $15 or so, it's quite a disincentive for trying to charge $10 or so on a monthly rate when it comes back as a $15 instead, and if there are too many chargebacks (I heard 1% chargebacks are not tolerated), the merchant account gets pulled. Once it's pulled, it's hard to convince a bank to give you a merchant account.

      The XM merger will have a hard time going through on other accounts, The Sirius CEO got a very lucrative of a bonus, too lucrative for a company in trouble: here [], and XM admitted that some 40% of their retransmission antennas were not located in their approved locations, heights or power ratings: here [].
  • The government grants private monopolies for speech over the airwaves supposedly for the "public interest", but really for the corporate elite that run America. You don't have the right to broadcast audio speech over radio waves at frequencies and strengths that would give you a mass audience unless you pay massive licensing fees that are prohibitive to any working class individual. This means that religion and capitalism maintain their cruel grip on the consciousness of the American public through manufa
    • AM, FM, Satellite, it's all the same.

      And that's where you're wrong. The FCC (aka, the Gubmint) regulates AM and FM broadcasts. They do not, however, regulate satellite broadcasts.
    • You have freedom of speech if they can't lock you up for saying what you say. But freedom of speech does not include a right to be published. And there's a corresponding freedom not to listen to you, and certainly a corresponding freedom to refuse to publish your garbage.

      You want to be published? Buy and run your own printing press or radio station.

      Social democratic management of the means of speech? Your mouth is your own, and pens and paper are really, really cheap. Beyond that, it's not about speech, it'
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ScrewMaster ( 602015 )
      True free speech can only prosper when both the right to speak and the right to be heard is available to all equally.

      We have both of those rights in the United States. That's not the problem ... the problem is having the ability to speak and be heard, and the fact of the matter is that broadcasts from the major media and content producers no longer provide even a semblance of that. Which is why, in practice, nations that may otherwise have fewer legal protections on public speech can be freer, in that re
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @08:46AM (#19197571) Homepage Journal
    Its not, so why is it under the free-speech topic?

    Sounds like bad business practice to me. Offer a service people want and pay for, then yank the rug out from under them when they get what they want. And, if they are refusing to cancel subscriptions, sounds like a class action lawsuit. Putting them out of business would make a good point.

  • We are endowed with natural rights as an intrinsic property of our human nature. The constitution may or may not *recognize* these rights, and it may or may not recognize them in the full scope to which they intrinsically apply - however, a political prisoner in China has the *same rights* as you are I, although his government may not recognize them. []

      If those who own the printing presses censor what the rest of us write, we do not have freedom of the press.

      If those who own the medium of communication censor what we say, we do not have freedom of speech.

      In the market context, freedom of the press is dependent on the existence of a large group of publishers, so that if one publisher refuses to carry what you wish to publish uncensored, you can find another that will. Essentially, this requires a true market (an effectively infinite number of players, low barriers to entry, etc.)

      Radio broadcasting is not a market.
    • If those who own the medium of communication censor what we say, we do not have freedom of speech.

      These guys are still perfectly welcome to say what they want, they just aren't necessarily being given the biggest soapbox to say it from. So no, it is not a free speech issue as you've framed it.
  • by ZoneGray ( 168419 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @08:48AM (#19197589) Homepage
    Who the hell was advertising on XM? All I hear is ads for and for other XM shows.

    Uncensored only means it's uncensored by the FCC over the F word and topless titty (which, admittedly, isn't a big problem on the radio). But anybody who you sign a contract with is gonna maintain some editorial control over what you do, and if you suddenly started spouting Nazi propaganda, they wouldn't want to be associated with you. Now, we're currently undergoing one of those public hysterias over shock radio, so everybody is hypersensistive, and it's an overreaction in one sense. But....

    Mostly what's going on is that shock radio has jumped the shark. It's going out of style, and this is what it looks like. Imus caught some heat, and it turned out he had some listeners but no loyal fans to defend him. Stern went to Sirius and a fraction of his audience followed. It's not that the radio stations are becoming more censorious, it's just that the shows are now disposable, they don't make enough money anymore to make it worth the hassle.
  • by tehwebguy ( 860335 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @09:08AM (#19197679) Homepage
    Your definition of "Free Speech" doesn't really matter in this situation.

    The real issue is that there are people who actually pay money for, and listen to this program. They want what they want, and right now XM isn't giving it to them.
  • As another blog has posted, I have verified. XM is not canceling accounts when you call. Merely just putting a hold on them. My cancellation date when I called back was May 26th, when I asked for it immediately. May 25th is a shareholder's meeting. Coincidence?
  • by Orion Blastar ( 457579 ) <orionblastar&gmail,com> on Sunday May 20, 2007 @09:53AM (#19197885) Homepage Journal
    because they already said what they said on the air. What this is would be punishment for making racist or bigoted remarks like Don Imus did and got busted for and so many others.

    This is a new trend, if a DJ or announcer or talk show host on the radio says something racist or bigoted they will get punished for it now.

    Free Speech does not give you the right to violate station policy, nor does it give you the right to avoid social norms or insult groups of people with. It is about time that people are held accountable for what they say, instead of getting away with murder.
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @09:54AM (#19197889) Homepage Journal

    "Free speech" refers to a prohibition on censorship by the government;

    No, "free speech" refers to our inalienable right to speak freely, limited only by restrictions on harm it does to others.

    The Constitution does not constrain only the government. This kind of thinking comes from the basic fallacy that "the Constitution gives us certain rights". No: we have certain rights, and we people create the government to protect those rights as described in the Constitution.

    For example, you cannot keep slaves on your private plantation. There are many other Constitutional controls that obviously do not stop at your property line.

    There is, however, the right to control one's own private property, primarily by controlling access to it by other people. And there is the middle ground, private property to which access is granted to the public, even by degrees (eg. from a parking lot to a shopping mall to a diner to a private club to an invite-only house party).

    And then there's the in-fact results of the exact circumstances of private owners prohibiting certain rightful actions. If only one club prohibits speech, and there are plenty of other venues, then that club is not suppressing the rights. But if every venue for speech is private, and prohibits speech (or every golf course prohibits Germans), then that prohibition is suppressing the rights, and the government has business removing the infringement on the rights.

    Satellite radio is an exclusive (literally - it excludes nonsubscribers) club, but it's offered to the public. And, especially since the Sirius/XM merger, it's a very limited venue. There's some worthwhile debate of whether alternate media offer alternate venues, like Internet and broadcast radio. Today they do, since satellite radio is a small audience that is also reachable with audio telecasts. But they might have a majority audience, or perhaps one demographic segment of its audience is large and otherwise not reachable. A future lawsuit might have to decide on the actual situation.

    Opie and Anthony have a contract, in which it surely states what speech can get them thrown off the air. Subscribers have contracts which surely state what content can be removed suddenly and without warning. Those terms are enforceable, without violating the Constitution. Not because there is free speech as unlimited as in a public park - and certainly not because the government has no jurisdiction in the encrypted satellite band.

    But because of how our actual rights are protected by the actual situation, in its real details. When our rights are at stake, the Constitution is there to protect them. But not when someone's just waving the Constitution because they didn't get the entertainment they can get elsewhere.
  • Growing pains (Score:3, Interesting)

    by michaelmalak ( 91262 ) <> on Sunday May 20, 2007 @09:55AM (#19197893) Homepage
    Satellite radio chose to ramp up its business built on porn (Howard Stern) -- cheap easy money -- and now it's trying to go mainstream -- larger market but more challenging content creation.

    In this day and age, though, "more channels of mainstream content" isn't enough. The public grew tired of that with cable TV in the 80's and 90's. Satellite radio will have to adopt either time-shifting (in the manner of PVRs) or collaboration (in the manner of YouTube and Digg).

    Right now, I'm having to accomplish time-shifting of talk radio via a thumb drive and an FM-broadcasting MP3 player. I'd rather have the convenience of an in-dash Tivo-style device that did it for me. No, it's not something that couldn't be copied by terrestial and Internet radio, but satellite radio could be first.

    Building on that, my other suggestion was for user-created content. "Podcasting" was always kind of a misnomer since downloading and listening were discrete steps. Again, a Tivo-style satellite radio would simplify this, and combined with user-created content uploaded to the Internet (rated and ranked similar to Digg), satellite radio could usher in peer-to-peer broadcasting.

    However, Big Media, Big Government, and Big Corporations would not like it and would try to see that it wouldn't happen.

  • by Denis Troller ( 1002792 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @10:12AM (#19198015)
    Free speech is the right do say what you believe without fear of (pretty broadly) being stripped of your freedom because of it (meaning incarceration, death...)

    If you guys are going to argue that anybody who owns a medium should have no control over its editorial line, you are seriously wrong, IMO.
    Granted, you cannot expect to be able to speak up without *any* form of consequence, but that's a private citizen issue. The only thing the first amendment assures you is that the government will not prevent you from speaking (and should protect your life from the results of such speech I guess).

    As some pointed out here, the issue here is what XM promised to deliver and if it held up to it. If not, then paying customers are gonna leave them and that's the end of it.
    Opie and Anthony were hired because of that kind of stunts, and XM knew what to expect from them.
    Nobody here has any idea of what limitations XM gave to them and if they went over them. If there is a breach of contract or whatever issue of that kind, let them deal with that in court.

    But please do not start saying that a news-paper/TV station/radio should publish anything without control over their own publication, because it's not true.
  • by plasmacutter ( 901737 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @10:30AM (#19198093)
    I think it's time we got off this childish and meaningless deliniation between huge centralized corporate power and governments.

    Back in the days of our forefathers the king was also in control of business through either direct control of resources or indirect control over charters and taxes. Now corporations have multinational presence, and force governments to "compete" for the boosts to gdp they offer with bought legislation.

    Many corporations have more assets than developing word nations, and bill gates could easily fund an army to seize half of africa if he wished, but corporate weasels learn well from the past and are now content to manipulate the puppet strings and cry "private property" whenever groups call a spade a spade.

    When clearchannel controls more than half the radio market they carry as much or more power than government, and need to be held responsible for censorship.
  • by rat_love_cat ( 844761 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @10:33AM (#19198105)
    Smashing radios as a protest? Isn't that like slashing the seats at a drive-in movie?
  • by sarysa ( 1089739 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @12:39PM (#19198929)
    I love this story, on so many levels. This is the first of its kind that I've seen. You always read about and expect stories like the Don Imus firing, (who, by the way, is suing CBS. Good luck to him.) or how someone is fined hundreds of thousands of US$ for saying the F-word, or "massive uproar" over split-second bairly-visible nip slips. But here we have the anti-censorship crowd doing exactly what the paranoid networks feared would come from the other side. I hope this is the start of a new revolution.

    When did we get to the point where everything has to revolve around the opinions of a few overzealous religious-right middle-aged stay-at-home mothers who lived their whole lives inside a bubble and have too much time on their hands? [I have a sister who's just like that] For one, I don't think these people are going to change brands of toothpaste because their favorite brand sponsors a show that drops S-bombs and F-bombs on a regular basis. I also don't think these people will be buying any high-end cars or other luxury products, so those sponsors are safe. No sane person would boycott any sort of medication or medical treatment over this. The only potential advertisers affected might be those selling lower-end cars, SUVs(mainly), and perhaps any product that requires some amount of forethought. I'm sure there's a few obsessive individuals who will write down the names of every product that sponsors an offensive show and avoid them, but these are considerably rare.

    Keeping this from becoming too off-topic, what Opie and Anthony fans can do is this: Take a brief look at the advertisers who pulled out in opposition of censorship. If they sell anything big that you plan on purchasing, remember to tell the salesperson (or probably better, write the company a letter with a photocopy of your receipt) that you went with them because they supported Opie and Anthony. (or free speech, but at least mention Opie and Anthony) I already plan to do the same because a (different) radio show that I love came under fire awhile back, and their main sponsor stood up for them. So my next mattress is coming from that sponsor. This is turning the tables on what networks and sponsors expect from consumers, and in doing so we may change their views on censorship.
  • by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @01:21PM (#19199141) Homepage
    I'm really tired that every time there's some kind of "person Y said thing X" on radio/TV people always talk about what was said in vague terms rather than actual quotes. If you're going to have some judgement about if it was right/wrong to suspend them, it's important to know what was actually said by who, not talking around what they said. Even the wikipedia article about the "incident" only goes so far as to refer to it as ""love to f--- that b----."

    So what did they actually say? Here's the transscript I've been able to dig up. Charlie is some character called "homeless charlie".

    Charlie: I tell you what, what's that George Bush bitch? Rice? Condoleeza Rice.

    Anthony: Condoleeza Rice.

    Charlie: I'd love to fuck that bitch dead, man. She needs a fucking man. I'll fuck that bitch --

    Anthony: I just imagine the horror in Condoleeza Rice's face ...

    Opie: [laughter] ... when she realizes what's going on ...

    Anthony: ... as you were just like holding her down and fucking her.

    Charlie: Punch her all in the fucking face. Shut up, bitch.

    Anthony: That's exactly what I meant.

    Charlie: You know, fuck, and George Bush wife? I'll fuck that bitch to death. She needs a man.

    Anthony: You diggin' her?

    Charlie: I love that.

    Anthony: Hey woman, hey woman. I show you a real man. Why don't you come by my box I'll show you a real man.

    Opie: Hey, what about the queen? Current events: The queen just finally went back to her dumb castle or whatever. Oh boy, we lost his mike. We lost Charlie's mike. We lost Charlie's mike.

    Anthony: Oh no.

    Opie: I can paraphrase.

    Anthony: ... and he was just saying something nice about the royal family.

    Charlie: Fuck the queen. She lost -- you're lost, bitch. Why you coming over here for, you horse-faced lookin bitch?

    Anthony: [whinny] You lost!

    Charlie: Fuck that bitch.

    I've never listened to Opie and Anthony, nor do I subscribe to sat radio, but I have to say it's a lot less offensive than I imagined from the little "raping Condi Rice, Laura Bush, and the Queen" summary I've read. It's really not any worse talk than you'd hear a few guys in a bar saying.

    I guess I have to agree with the comment that the suspension was really more about trying to appease any government contacts that Sirius/XM has to grease the wheels on the (IMO really bad for the public) merger between the two.

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson