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FCC to be racial landlord.

From Wall Street Journal

Among the conditions extracted by regulators before approving the Sirius XM satellite radio merger earlier this month was the company’s promise to set aside a share of channels for minority programmers. Now we’re finding out what these racial preferences mean in practice.

In a commitment letter last month, Sirius XM informed the Federal Communications Commission that while it agreed to reserve the channels, the company doesn’t want to choose the actual programmers. No doubt Sirius XM realizes that this is one giant political headache, and that it’s unlikely to be the final arbiter in any case. There will almost certainly be more applicants than available channels, and programmers who aren’t chosen will inevitably turn to the courts and the FCC to complain. The government may as well pick the minority programmers directly.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is prepared to do just that. According to a report in Communications Daily, an electronic newsletter that covers the telecom industry, the FCC is developing procedures to determine what constitutes a “minority” programmer and which minorities are worthy of special treatment. These racial preferences and quotas are blatantly unconstitutional, and may not themselves survive judicial review. But Mr. Martin gets around that legal nicety by claiming the concessions are “voluntary.”

We look forward to seeing who the FCC deems to be “minority” enough to qualify. Meanwhile, this spectacle of a Bush appointee playing racial landlord is one to keep in mind when Mr. Martin begins his oft-mentioned run for elected political office.