Washington — The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) withdrew its petition to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that sought to stop Sirius and XM from transmitting metro-area weather and traffic reports.
The NAB said it moved to dismiss the petition because the satellite radio companies have taken additional actions that could hurt local radio and the FCC should be notified of the full picture.
An NAB spokesman explained. “We withdrew the petition because our legal team believes the record needs to be updated with some fresh evidence regarding some of XM and Sirius’ programming initiatives. We’re going to continue to purse this issue both at the FCC and Congress.”
The NAB claimed that the satellite radio companies are engaged in “aggressive maneuvering” that could hurt local broadcasting, such as offering addressable receivers, which through GPS can send certain content to listeners based on their geography. The motion cited XM’s new NavTraffic service that will be offered by Pioneer in the near term as an example. It also mentioned that XM and Sirius are carrying football and basketball games.It said, “Even more disturbing, should it occur, is XM’s purported intent to use the local broadcast feeds for Major League Baseball (MLB), strip out the broadcasters’ commercials and add their own, and split the advertising revenues with MLB. Should these programming trends continue, the impact to local radio will become more severe and could decrease the broadcaster’s ability to provide local service.”
XM responded to the withdrawal with a prepared statement: “ This is a complete vindication of our position that XM has complied and continues to comply with FCC rules…Why would the NAB suddenly withdraw a petition that it so confidently believed would win approval? Because all indications were that the Commission was poised to rule against the NAB, so it decided to withdraw in a last-minute attempt to save face.As a result, this waste of Commission resources is now at an end.”
The NAB said it will continue to monitor “the evolution of satellite radio, and we intend to bring the matter before this agency when a fuller picture has developed.”
Originally the NAB filed a petition in April for declaratory ruling to prohibit satellite radio services "from providing locally oriented services on nationally distributed channels."