- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Yesterday’s hearing before the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals over Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction” was more than an argument over indecency laws; it was also an exercise in irony, according to C-SPAN.

The Washington-based public-affairs network had submitted a request with the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia to televise the arguments for CBS v. Federal Communications Commission, the case in which the broadcast network appealed the fine from federal regulators over the singer’s exposure during the 2004 Super Bowl half-time show. The court rejected C-SPAN’s request.

“It’s ironic that this case may dictate standards for television programming, yet television cameras are not allowed to cover it,” C-SPAN President Susan Swain said.

The network submitted its official request despite knowing the 3rd Circuit hadn’t permitted cameras before.

“We did it on the theory that if you don’t ask, you’ll never get an answer,” said Bruce Collins, the network’s general counsel and corporate vice president. Each circuit can change its rules, he noted.

Only two of the country’s 13 judicial circuits permit cameras in the court room — the 2nd Circuit in New York City and the 9th Circuit in San Francisco, both on a case-by-case basis.

The 3rd Circuit allows audio recordings, however, and C-SPAN made audio of yesterday’s arguments available in the afternoon on the network’s Web site. It will also air the arguments on television as well as on C-SPAN Radio.

Mr. Collins, who was in the courtroom yesterday, called the arguments “fascinating.”

The survey says

In this week’s edition of the satellite-radio lobby versus the broadcasting lobby, the two sides traded jabs over a survey commissioned by XM and Sirius that “shows overwhelming support” for their post-merger programming plans.

The survey, based on telephone interviews with 800 registered voters, asked respondents whether the companies’ proposed “a la carte” and other programming options would be generally good or generally bad for consumers. In each case, a majority of participants were said to support the packages, which the companies have used as a carrot to drum up regulatory and public support for the merger.

In addition, Public Opinion Strategies LLC, which conducted the survey in early August, polled voters on the merger itself.

The findings? Fifty-seven percent of American voters agree that the merger “is good for consumers and in the public interest,” the survey reported, compared with 28 percent who disagreed. That number comprises 65 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of Democrats interviewed.

The margin of error was 3.46 percentage points, according to XM and Sirius.

The proposed merger of District-based XM and Sirius of New York requires the approval of both the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission.

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), which represents traditional AM/FM radio, dismissed the survey as “loaded.”

“Here’s what XM and Sirius conveniently did not ask poll participants,” NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton said in a statement, “Do you like monopolies? Should government reward two companies that routinely violate FCC rules with a monopoly?”

Channel Surfing runs on Wednesdays. E-mail krowland@washingtontimes.com.

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