Fritts fires on satellite radio repeaters

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NAB President Eddie Fritts alerted broadcasters to the
threat NAB feels satellite radio broadcasters pose, as
XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio build
high-power repeater networks across the country.

"When you pull back the curtain, you discover that these
companies are quietly trying to build what they call a
repeater network that has the potential to become a
terrestrial-based network service," Fritts said.

NAB worries that the repeater networks will allow
satellite broadcasters to offer locally originated
programs and advertising on their national radio
services. "XM has already built without FCC permission
more than 1,000 transmitter repeaters all over the
country, some with power levels as high as 40,000
watts. In just one market - Boston - XM plans to place
66 high-powered transmitters. That's more than twice
the number of local radio stations in Boston," Fritts
said.

Earlier in the day, FCC Commissioners Michael
Copps, Kathleen Abernathy and Kevin Martin said they
believed the commission should move quickly to put
rules in place to resolve the issue.

Fritts encouraged radio broadcasters to tell
their members of Congress that they oppose a decision
by the U.S. Copyright Office that requires
broadcasters to pay a performance royalty fee to
record companies to stream their radio signals over
the Internet. "Asking radio stations to pay an
additional new fee to compensate the music labels is
unreasonable and grossly unfair," Fritts said.

Finally, Fritts told radio stations to pay attention
to the coming fight on campaign finance reform.
Although only television stations currently stand to
face severe reductions in ad revenue due to a bill
that would require TV broadcasters to give politicians
rock-bottom rates on advertising, Fritts warned that
"radio is only one amendment away from being included,
and be assured that radio will not likely skate free
on this issue."

Congress returned to work this week and campaign
finance reform is likely to come back up for debate
before the end of the month. - Paige Albiniak

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