Bryan Caplan  

The Censors of Ghost Town

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Howard Stern premiered today on Sirius satellite radio, and I couldn't be happier. I don't find Stern funny. I don't subscribe to Sirius. But this move is another market-driven nail in the coffin of the censors at the FCC. These guys give new meaning to the phrase "pompous bureaucrats" - in the age of the Internet, when every child knows how to google any depravity that interests him, the FCC starts handing out fines for a risque glimpse of Janet Jackson. Good grief.

Personally, I'd say that with the cancellation of Arrested Development, the only thing left on network t.v. worth watching is the Simpsons. Well, that may be a bit harsh. But it's getting easier and easier to see the day when the FCC regulates a cultural ghost town - and it stops issuing fines because anything that might offend anyone has left its jurisdiction.


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The author at Deinonychus antirrhopus in a related article titled The Censors of Ghost Town writes:
    Bryan Caplan has a good post (whose title I've also shamelessly stolen) that describes my feelings about the FCC. Howard Stern premiered today on Sirius satellite radio, and I couldn't be happier. I don't find Stern funny. I don't subscribe to Sirius. ... [Tracked on January 10, 2006 2:07 AM]
COMMENTS (7 to date)
Brad Hutchings writes:

I bought a couple Sirius radios this winter for gifts. One thing that has really surprised me is just how much good stuff is on there, even if you don't like Stern. I'd almost go as far as to say that Sirius/XM could give the iPod a run for its money in the car over the next few years, and I was an early adopter of high-end iPod car audio. (I have a very thumpin' Alpine system with iPod control in the dash in my Blazer, if that matters.) The only downside to satellite is that it needs an outdoor antenna.

However, I also have a feeling that satellite radio isn't going to be so much about the delivery mechanism as it is about a paid content silo. Arnold Kling should love the model, if he hasn't already thought about it. $13/month gets you 100+ channels you can choose anytime. And the trend of XM and Sirius is to make the streams available to subscribers online too, so they can listen at work where they don't have a satellite with antenna.

N. writes:

If podcasting ever truly hits the mainstream, it could easily edge out a not-insignificant chunk of the satellite radio market. A subscription fee of $0/month is less than $13/month, and I'd wager the content will be about equivalent.

Furthermore, let the record show that the Simpsons has not been worth watching since halfway through season 7, shortly before the show lost all its good writers.

Neal Phenes writes:

Besides the freedom from the FCC's content control (and I need to hear farts more often on the radio than I have on the public airwaves), there is a sinister issue that has gotten little coverage.

They say Stern has added 2 million satellite radio subscribers. At $13 per, we are looking at an additional $26 million of revenue per month or $312 per year. If he is being paid even $30 million per year, the owners of Serius are pocketing great profits in the exchange.

Stern should have the US Senate begin an inquiry into this one-sided transaction. Stern (and Robin, Gary, Fred, and Artie- but not Jackie) needed the gig, truly had no options and had no way of knowing what his impact would be on the industry.

This is corporate greed in action and I need to see people like John McCain publicly deplore such unfair capitalism.

Eric writes:

Note that Stern won't be airing for Canadian Sirius listeners. Sirius won't say that the CRTC (Canadian FCC) told them not to air him, but would be pretty surprised if they didn't fully expect lawsuits if they did air him. It ain't so much the cussin', but he might say something inappropriate about a minority group. A Quebec radio station lost its whole licence for that...

Wild Pegasus writes:

Personally, I'd say that with the cancellation of Arrested Development, the only thing left on network t.v. worth watching is the Simpsons. Well, that may be a bit harsh.

Not harsh, mistaken. The Simpsons haven't been worth watching in years, either.
- Josh

Zac writes:

Bryan, your love for the Simpsons has been misplaced since Conan O'Brien stopped writing the for show; or thereabouts. Right now it isn't even the funniest animated show on network television (Family Guy is significantly better).

Network TV is good for sports. And Fox has Seinfeld reruns.

R.J. Lehmann writes:

It looks that Arrested Development may find a new home at ABC, so all is not lost yet.

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