Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Did XM Go Too Far?

May 15, 2007
Tyler Savery

With the suspension of Opie & Anthony announced today, the popular question seems to be, “Did Opie & Anthony go too far? For investors in, and consumers of satellite radio, the more appropriate question is, “DID XM GO TOO FAR?”

This is not about whether something said was right or wrong. It is not about whether it is moral or immoral. It is not about whether the comments had class or were classless. This is about whether XM Satellite radio made the correct move in suspending Opie & Anthony.

Satellite radio has been seen as somewhat of a safe haven for expression. On air talent did not have to measure each spoken word worried about substantial fines from the FCC if even something as small as the context was judged to be improper. Satellite radio did not have to live to those standards. The question is, “DES THAT SAFE HAVEN EXIST NOW?”

There are many things to consider. Will consumers who pay for satellite radio rebel against XM for this decision? Will consumers that were considering satellite radio now not find it as attractive because it appears to be simply a bigger version of what is on terrestrial radio? Will sponsors, who have come up with some pretty creative advertising on satellite be scared to open up to more edgy advertising? Will other on-air talent feel that there is a censorship issue, and curb their expression and thoughts in fear of some repercussion?

In my opinion, XM should not have taken this step. This is not to say that I found the comments made by Opie & Anthony acceptable in any way. It is about what I feel is unacceptable on the part of XM Satellite Radio. This move has the potential to set up events that no satellite radio listener wants to see happen. It sets precedence and opens a door to more judgment. Frankly, it takes some of the luster and attraction away from satellite radio.

I would have much preferred to see this issue handled in house. Perhaps something along the lines of a fine that would then be donated to charity. This method would have toned down the duo because it hit them in the wallet, while keeping the issue “in-house” enough so as not to let subscribers feel that the censorship train is barreling down the tracks. I would not even mind XM having made a statement that “THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY OPIE & ANTHONY DO NOT NECESSARILY EXPRESS THE VIEWS OF XM SATELLITE RADIO”, and playing each day during the show.

Satellite radio is a medium that allows listeners access to a broad arrangement of listening. Each subscriber has their own tastes. Each subscriber has the ability to listen to what they want, and tune away from what they do not want. In fact, each listener can even BLOCK channels that they do not like.

In my humble opinion, XM Satellite Radio made an error in judgment that perhaps has the potential to be a far greater error than some ill advised and classless comments made by Shock Jocks. Let’s hope that this does not take satellite radio down a path of censorship and guarded commentary.

Position - Long XM

5/15/2007 09:33:00 PM

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  • It is a greater issue than making "some ill advised and classless comments". Most people support their right to be as vulgar and as nasty as they want to be. That is a completely separate issue than what happened with O & A. It is difficult to comprehend why this not obvious.

    What they did borders on criminal. And it raises the threshold, if unpunished. What's next, pedophiles staking out the local grammar school? It is not a matter of turning it off. When they encourage the rape of women or the rape of a child, it may damn well make some weak minded person do it. I don't want to see a society where such actions are normalized. You say that it is only words, words that can be switched off. Tell that to the victim.

    It is either free expression or it is not. If it is, no punishment is merited. If not, who's to say what is the best punishment, as long as they are punished. You seem to be on the fence. It is either right or wrong.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 15, 2007 11:01 PM  

  • I am not on the fence at all. I simply stated that I feel that XM went too far withb the 30 day suspension.

    My commentary is not so much focused on what was said, and whether it was right or wrong, but rather how this has a potential to impact the perception of some of the things that make XM a wonderful service.

    This is why I would have much rather seen a fine, or other mechanism to punish the duo.

    My issue is not with Opie and Anthony as much as it is with what happens to other talent on XM satellite radio. How guarded will DJ or talk show comments be going forward?

    The focus of the moment is what it is. The actions can carry much more dramatic impacts.

    The problem is this.....where is the line drawn, and is it crystal clear to talent and subscribers alike. At this point it is not.

    No one wants to see a society where things such as what was stated are normalized. However, I also do not want to see a society where people are afraid to express something.

    This issue goes beyond the rape comments (i did not like the bit at all for the record). I am worried about other commentary, comedy and shows that will now have a doubt as to whether or not their comment (non-criminal) will offend someone.

    I simply would have preferred another course of action by XM. Perhaps the contracts did not allow for it, but we may never know the answer to that.

    By Blogger SSG, at May 15, 2007 11:30 PM  

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