Globe Scan

Globe Scan : Goood Morrning, America!

the advent of satellite radio has spawned an innovative government regulatory network

Companies first petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to issue satellite Digital Audio Radio Service licences in 1990. After the FCC divided the satellite bandwidth, or the S band, the agency auctioned two eightyear licences for satellite broadcasting in 1997. Four companies-American Mobile Satellite Corp, CD Radio, Digital Satellite Broadcasting and Primosphere-submitted bids for the two licences. CD Radio, now known as Sirius Satellite Radio, bought one of the licences for $83.3 million, and American Mobile Radio Corp, now XM Radio, won the other for $89.9 million.

In the ensuing years, the US satellite radio companies formed corporate partnerships to build and distribute radio receivers, develop talk, news, music, and sports programming, and market the new product to America. After launching their satellites between 2000 and 2001, XM went on the air in late 2001, and Sirius followed in early 2002.

The companies spend roughly $250 million to launch a single satellite, leading to massive overhead costs for satellite radio firms. More than 5 million people subscribed to satellite radio as of early 2005. That number is expected to jump to 8 million by the end of 2005, according to media analysts, making satellite radio one of the fastest-growing technologies in history.

The FCC does not regulate the content of satellite radio or other fee-based media. But, amid recent complaints over indecent content on radio and television, Congress and the FCC are discussing ways to expand the agency’s authority to subscription-based media, such as cable television and satellite radio.

The FCC is authorized to allocate bandwidth for Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service as it did in 1992, and to issue broadcast and satellite licences. The US government must also coordinate the satellites owned by Sirius and XM through the International Telecommunication Union, which works to oversee global communication networks.

In 1997, the FCC divided that bandwidth evenly for two satellite radio licences, which were purchased by the highest bidders-Sirius and XM Radio. Each satellite radio licence has an eight-year term and can be renewed. The FCC can levy fines and revoke the licence if either company interferes with other broadcast signals or violates other rules of its licence.

Vol 1,Issue 1 | April 2007

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