- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The suspension of XM Satellite Radio’s shock jocks Opie and Anthony may have been as controversial in some circles as the remarks that got them into hot water in the first place.

Fans angered by the suspension have, in addition to staging protests as members of the group People Against Censorship, urged XM subscribers to cancel the service, decrying the company on Internet message boards and even setting up a Web site at www.cancelxm.com.

And, in an unusual move, the D.C. company said this week it will not charge fans of the duo who dropped the service the customary $14.99 reactivation fee if they restart their subscriptions by the end of the month.

About 5,000 subscribers have canceled their subscriptions in protest of the suspension, XM spokesman Chance Patterson said. But, he pointed out, the company adds about 1 million new subscribers each quarter.

Gregg “Opie” Hughes and Anthony Cumia will resume live broadcasts on XM on Friday. They were suspended for one month after a guest fantasized about raping Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, first lady Laura Bush and Queen Elizabeth II. The pair egged on the man, describing the “horror” of Miss Rice if she were held to the ground and punched in the face.

“There’s so much speculation on the blogs and fan sites about O and A’s return that we thought we’d take a minute to give you the facts directly,” reads a message on XM’s Web site that laid out a schedule of the duo’s channel, known as “the Virus.”

Yesterday, XM denied reports that the company is planning to implement a 3-second delay from now on in case the shock jocks venture into questionable territory again.

“That is not accurate,” Mr. Patterson told Channel Surfing. “We will not be censoring Opie and Anthony. ”

XM is currently seeking regulatory approval to merge with Sirius Satellite Radio.

Surprise: Online ads up

Spending on Internet advertising is expected to climb 16 percent this year, dwarfing the gains in other media segments, reports market-research firm TNS Media Intelligence. The next-biggest winner is cable television ad spending, which the company predicts will gain nearly 6 percent over 2006.

Traditional media isn’t faring as well. Network TV is expecting a rise of just 1.3 percent, while radio dollars will drop by one-third of a percent and newspaper ad spending will slip nearly 3 percent.

The firm curbed its previous forecast of the total U.S. ad spending for 2007, to a gain of $152.3 billion or 1.7 percent, down from the 2.6 percent increase it predicted back in January.

“The advertising market has moved onto a slower track than we thought possible just six months ago,” Steven J. Fredericks, president and chief executive officer of TNS Media Intelligence. Total advertising expenditures “will post their smallest annual gain since the 2001 advertising recession as marketers continue to incrementally scale back their allocations to off-line media in favor of less-expensive digital alternatives.”

In other news …

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