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NAB to Fight 'Local' Sat Radio

The National Association of Broadcasters Tuesday vowed to continue fighting locally targeted traffic and weather reports by satellite radio despite withdrawing its petition asking the Federal Communications Commission to prohibit them.

NAB claims that the service being rolled out by XM Satellite Radio violates the government's intent that satellite radio be a truly national service and that adding locally targeted reports will hurt the viability of free over-the-air radio stations. NAB told B&C it will resume the fight after collecting data on the harm the service poses to local stations. "We will continue to pursue this at the FCC and in Congress," said NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton.

The FCC several weeks ago was moving toward rejecting NAB's request but the NAB's pending withdrawal of the petition apparently prompted the commission to hold off on a ruling.

For now, the satellite radio industry is gloating and contends NAB withdrew its petition to "save face" rather than suffer a public defeat. "This a complete vindication of our position that XM has complied and continues to comply with FCC rules," the Washington, D.C.-based company said in a statement.

"NAB's action validates that there are no content restrictions on XM." Besides the satellite industry, others opposing NAB's petition included the Consumer Electronics Association and the U.S. Department of Transportation. This year XM has been rolling out channels devoted to traffic and weather in specific markets. The channels are available to every XM subscriber across the country.