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XM Suspends Opie and Anthony, Fails Subscribers

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“Beyond AM. Beyond FM. It’s XM Satellite Radio.” Those words were all a part of the sales pitch that drove XM to the top of the satellite radio food chain. The product was advertised as an all new radio experience where the old rules and standards would not apply. Commercials weren’t a part of the mix because subscribers signed up directly. FCC regulations didn’t apply for the same reason that HBO was allowed to have graphic sex and violence on their TV shows. As of yesterday, when XM management decided to suspend controversial talkers Opie and Anthony for 30 days, all the promises and sales pitches started to ring hollow.

How did this situation get to this point? Last week, Opie and Anthony had a homeless gentleman in the studio who was riffing semi-coherent craziness. As the jocks have done many times in the past, they really stayed out of the guest’s way to let him ramble right on through to see what kind of entertaining pearls of nuttiness they could bring out of him in order to entertain numerous fans on the show that XM has proclaimed in the past is the most popular original show on the platform, excluding syndicates like ESPN and MSNBC. As the homeless man named Charlie continued to ramble, he made a comment about how he would like to have sex with Condoleezza Rice.

Now, as most of you have read, Anthony followed that up by saying something really outlandish. He wondered what it would look like to see the horror on Rice’s face as Homeless Charlie was on top of her and punching her in the face. I know how that looks in print. There is no way in the world that that could possibly be funny, right? I can understand those thoughts. It makes sense to me. The thing is that people who are reading this quote in print from their newspaper or on The Drudge Report have no idea what the context truly was.

Earlier on during Homeless Charlie’s ranting, Opie asked him what he did for money. Charlie said that he panhandles, or sometimes he would “punch an old bi*** in the face.” Keep in mind that these are the ramblings of a homeless crazy person. Opie and Anthony were running with it and taking it to whatever limits they could find to take it in order to keep the crazy talk coming. And it worked for the most part.

The thing is, when the news reports that Opie and Anthony talked about a violent sexual assault of Condoleezza Rice, they are not reporting honestly and fairly. The way that reads, it would seem that the jocks were rooting for this to happen, when in fact, they were looking to exploit the juxtaposition of a crazy homeless man who has a penchant for bragging about making money by punching women in the face, who also happens to be attracted to a person who could be considered the most powerful woman in the country. You may not find it funny, but it is certainly without malice and/or ill will toward Ms. Rice.

And it is with that filter that I sit here feeling completely let down by the management team that was responsible for the suspension of Opie and Anthony for the next 30 days. They have been strong supporters of the Opie and Anthony show ever since it came back to XM. The management of the company have called and visited the show frequently, including EVP of Programming Eric Logan, Senior VP and Chief Programming Officer Lee Abrams, and CEO Hugh Panero. Their support of the show over the last few years including bits and segments that could easily have been deemed more offensive than anything said during the bit with Homeless Charlie is tacit approval at worst.

So, what has XM done? They have made portions of their advertising fraudulent. They have violated the philosophy of free speech. Worst of all, they have failed to support their talent and let their subscribers down. If half the messages are true on Opie and Anthony’s fan message boards are true, XM has also let their shareholders down as thousands of Opie and Anthony fans have been canceling their subscriptions ever since the announcement of the suspension came out yesterday afternoon.

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About Craig Lyndall

  • tony rumore

    XM facing huge subscriber losses over suspension and possible firing of Opie & Anthony

    XM satellite radio has suspended and is rumored to have fired shock jocks Opie & Anthony over comments that a homeless man made during his appearance on their program towards Condi Rice, Laura Bush and the Queen of England. Fans are showing their support in large numbers for the show by canceling their subscriptions. The angry subscribers are being offered an average of 3 free months of XM satellite radio .The vast majority of the fans are turning down that offer and canceling their subscriptions. Many of the fans had multiple XM units on their accounts. The average wait time to cancel is 1-2 hours due to the large volume of cancellations by dissatisfied customers.

    LINKS to Opie and Anthony message boards that have a thread with a list of cancelled subscribers.

  • Brian

    I canceled 2 radios this morning. I’ll support my local FM station that re-broadcasts the show in the afternoon.

  • Chris Townsell

    Good article. Thanks for being fair and having the facts which most of the other outlets do not.

  • Helio Muro

    Finally a fair article that shows the whole story and how XM is failing its subscribers, and shareholders.

    I cancelled my XM service yesterday until they bring back O&A. Their cancellation department was so hammered yesterday it took over 80 minutes to get someone on the line to cancel my subscription.

  • Prozac

    Very happy to see fans of the show fighting back and letting XM know that this is spinless of them. This is far from over.

  • chris scafiro

    finally someone who will tell the truth. the funnt thing with xm is they suspend opie and anthony but they let a gang member,murderer, drug dealer and whatever else snoop dog is stay on the air. when is snoop going to get suspended or maybe even fired? yeah i wont happen

  • http://www.myspace.com/wolffbird7 Gary Morgan

    XM has really blew it here. I had 5 radios in my name and have encouraged a dozen other buys for them in the last year. Whether O & A are your cup of tea or not… ADULTS should have a place to express themselves and find humor where they choose. It would be one thing if the duo spewed religious rantings or political rebel rousing… but nah… it is silly humor and talk amongst a group of men. I am afraid this is a call made my MEL and the SIRIUS gang. If the merger goes through XM will be the one’s raped and the bones picked for scraps. I was fearing cancelling over that scenario anyway. I had Sirius and the choices they off did not work for me. Sooooo… what now? I like Imus, I like O & A, I must be a threat to society…

  • Michael Reynolds

    I too have cancelled my XM account that i have had over 5 years. I expressed my disbelief and anger @ XM over this ridiculous suspension. 98% of my listening time was for Opie & Anthony. I cannot believe XM let all the subscribers down with their lies of CH# 202 being ‘Uncensored’? What a joke.

    Michael Reynolds
    Oakhurst, CA.

  • steiner76

    Great to see someone telling the truth. I was disgusted when I heard the news. It’s amazing what the media has come to. I hope the merger falls through and XM is left with nothing. Keep supporting the boys.

  • Frunkus

    Great article, at least honest and to the point. Opie and Anthony will definitely be fired I don’t believe XM will keep them, they are such bastards that I have cancelled my XM account and my brother cancelled three of his XM accounts, nice going XM for ruining freedom of speech, bunch of pussies.

  • http://www.peopleagainstcensorship.com Chris McGee

    This was a very good article. As everyone else has said, it is good to see that someone can stick to the facts and still write an informing article. Thank you again for your fairness.

  • Jimmy

    Great article. The truth is told. Word is that this is not just a suspension so tomorrow there is a protest in front of the free fm studio in NewYork. Spread the Virus!

  • skam

    I am cancelling 2 units as soon as I finish typing. Xm lied to us. Thanks again to the racist Al Sharpton for starting these with hunts.

    I’ll wait for the opie anthony and jimmy podcasts.

  • http://sterfish.blogspot.com Sterfish

    I can’t say that I’m a fan of Opie and Anthony or a subscriber to XM. However, as an outsider, this incident is really disappointing. I mean, wasn’t the whole point of satellite radio was to avoid things like this happening? Isn’t the freedom to say what they want the reason why people like Opie and Anthony and Howard Stern moved there in the first place?

    This is a major faux pas for the company and it instantly makes it less attractive for consumers. Nobody is going to want to pay for radio if it’s no better than what they can get for free.

    However, I wonder if the loss of subscribers could be a boon to XM’s plan to merge with Sirius. The potential merger would look a lot less like a monopoly if XM’s subscriber base keeps dropping.

  • http://peopleagainstcensorship.org/ Greg Brady’s Leftovers

    Very well written, Craig!

  • K ross

    I have 3 xm radios and intend on keeping all of them. For most subscribers XM is about the music

  • Vinny

    Beyond Am, Beyond FM, its still the political extortionists world of radio.

  • 420greg

    Don’t cancel. Just change the channel in the morning to 152 and listen to the Monsters. They are funnier then O and A anyway.

  • http://blogcritics.org/ Phillip Winn

    This sounds ridiculous. Sure, O&A are often in poor taste. That’s why they’re on satellite radio! If I were a subscriber, I’d cancel. ;-)

  • http://filteringcraig.com FilteringCraig

    Well, Phillip, it looks like you missed your opportunity. I guess we will all have to sit back and wait to see what O&A really have to say about this. They were live on FreeFM today and they didn’t say a single thing about the suspension.

  • Connor Petersen

    Glub Glub,

    I cancelled my subscription

    Then flushed my unit down the toilet and kissed my mommy lacy.

  • Dan

    Thank you. Kudos. You my friend are in the minority. Thank you for reporting FACTS and not using your ability to speak to others as a forum for irresponsibility. I have two subs that I will be cancelling if O&A are indeed fired. The only reason I have XM is for O&A. Hopefully the pests make XMers lives a living hell for this.

  • J.J. Hunsecker

    While I understand you O&A fans are bitter, you are too myopic. If the execs don’t show some self regulation, the government will move in and make things much worse. You know, the same people you helped drive O&A and Stern to pay radio in the first place.

  • Connor Petersen

    ” If the execs don’t show some self regulation, the government will move in and make things much worse.”

    The difference is it is a pay subscription. Just like HBO or pay per view porn on your cable tv. If you want it, you pay if not you dont want it then you dont pay.

  • Shawn

    Kross,
    I also subscribed to XM for the music. However, the situation with Opie and Anthony makes me very nervous. I like to listen to XM’s metal channels (Boneyard and Liquid Metal). Like 202, both channels are labeled “XL” because of the content. What happens when someone decides they are offended and complains to XM about those channels? They already took Liquid Metal away once (until the fans made enough noise to have it brought back). And given what’s happened to O&A, there’s little reason to doubt they can do it again.

  • Sean

    I called XM today and canceled my 2 subs. I told them until the boys are back that I would not be needing my radio’s any longer and had no problem paying the $15 reactivation fee per radio. If and when they come back, I will then sign up again.

  • MikeC

    J.J. Hunsecker – Don’t you see how wrong your comment is? The government does NOT have to move into satellite radio. You are acting like the victim of a school yard bully. Politicians still answer to you. They represent you. Grow a pair and make sure that it stays that way for future generations.

  • Sam C

    I also cancelled my subscription today. It took a while to get through and they offered me a free three months to stay on, but I declined.

    I’ve been an XM subscriber for over 2 years and O & A is the only show I listen to. As far as I’m concerned, the fact that XM is esentially censoring the content of their programming defeats the purpose of me paying for sattelite radio.

    I will miss O & A, but I’m not sure I will reactivate once they are back. If XM has done this to them once, what’s to ensure it won’t happen again?

    My point in PAYING for a subsription radio service was so that I could have uncensored entertainment. If I want to listen to tame radio then I might as well listen to free FM. There’s nothing else of value on XM right now as far as I’m concerned. I’ve gone back to listening to my MP3 discs in the car as of today. This is really appalling. Shame on you XM radio…

  • micah

    I called and canceled my subscription. When they bring O and A back then I will pay. Screw XM. They let their subscribers down.

  • sal m

    what will XM do when people start complaining about the kinds of humor that’s broadcast 24/7 on their unsensored comedy channel, XM 150? if people are offended about the rice material, there is way more stuff that prudes can be offended about on the comedy channel.

    also, since XM wants to merge with Sirius, they don’t want to piss off the feds.

  • KL

    What folks need to keep in mind is that this isn’t simply a matter of what O&A/Imus/whomever has said that is so terribly offensive, it’s that freedom of speech is being limited. People have the right to offend others. People who are offended have the right to not listen.

    Commentors have made mention about if HBO were to decide to censor The Sopranos – this is an exact metaphor as to what XM is doing to O&A. It is also setting precident for those who want to limit the speech of liberal OR conserative talk show hosts because they are offended (personally, I find Rush Limbaugh offensive on many levels, therefore I don’t listen to him). This is Big Brother coming.

  • Eric the Sanjiant

    Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

  • Tony D

    I called today and cancelled my subscription. The person that I talked with kept me on the phone for 33 minutes and offered me 3 months free if I didnt cancel. I had to tell him that I would cancel the credit card if he didnt cancel my subscription. Their freaking out over there.

  • Bud Dwyer

    XM’s attitude on this makes my head hurt, time to cancel.

  • J.J. Hunsecker

    “The difference is it is a pay subscription.”

    And people want to move in and regulate that. This is about the suits appeasing people and the government, and Sal is right about mentioning the merge being a factor. It’s just like MLB appearing to look like they are doing something about steroids to keep the government out.

    Mike, who’s acting like a victim? It’s all the XM babies who are canceling their accounts, taking their toys and going home. Instead you should be jamming phone lines and emails of all the execs.

    And where were all you supporters when the FCC was laying out heavy fines? If you had gone after the FCC members, this might not even be an issue. Trying walking the walk instead of just talking the talk.

  • Galvin

    I canceled two subs yesterday. Had been a subscriber for three years. O & A were the only reason I had XM. I doubt I will be back.

  • Budyzir

    Finally a writer who has the facts.

    Sorry to those who feel that there is no room for this kind of humor but there is a great number of us who enjoy it and we believed that XM was the place for it. Sadly several “suits” screwed up and lost as subscribers … their loss. Have you seen the latest price trend for XM stock?

    Budyzir – canceled two subscriptions.

  • SoCalSean

    XM has just stepped into the free fm zone. It’s bad enough that a lot of their stations play censored versions of hit songs, except of course Squizz. This suspension just shows that we should all drop our satelite subscriptions for failing to meet our needs as a consumer. I listen to “The Virus” for shocking radio, everyone elso can change the dial to hundreds of other stations or have the channel blocked. These pencil pushing idiots have even stopped the best of shows. I love Ron & Fez but where’s my O & A. Were the advertisers offended by this show, I don’t think so. If this is the result of post Imus cowardness by satelite companies, I have better buy HD radio and listen to filtered, censored, commercial loaded crap. P.S. listen to O & A on free FM online if your as unlucky as the LA market to not have an O & A broadcast. XM + Sirius = spineless, FCC regulated, censored radio. Save your money, buy an HD radio.

  • http://dailygut.com Jim Treacher

    “Commentors have made mention about if HBO were to decide to censor The Sopranos – this is an exact metaphor as to what XM is doing to O&A.”

    Considering the O&A Show makes up more than half of the original programming on Ch. 202 every day, an even more exact metaphor would be if somebody complained about The Sopranos and HBO was taken off the air entirely.

  • joe in nj

    I called XM today to cancel my 5 radio accounts. The csr not only offered me 30 days of free service to keep my radios active, he also offered to refund my 3 year prepayment of $384.81 if I would keep my accounts active.I told him that was very tempting but I must make a stand and not put up with XM’s censorship of O&A and I cancelled my accounts.

  • Chris

    I canceled 4 Subs yesterday. I’m Out O and A are the only reason I got XM

  • Bram

    I have not had time to cancel my 2 subscriptions yet – probably will shortly.

    More importantly (to me), I sold my XM stock yesterday. It had already lost half its value in a year – I predict a huge dip next quarter as sub numbers drop.

  • http://www.publicradioquest.com/node/1068 NR Davis

    NOT an O&A fan. But XM knew what they were getting. If it didn’t want that kind of “entertainment” representing the company, it shouldn’t have hired them in the first place. (Same with Imus and CBS.) Were O&A less offensive before the homeless man’s comment? Not IMO. I would never listen to them, but then, I never would have hired them in the first place. So it appears what we have here are two media firms who *wanted* to have these outrageous shock jocks and then opt to cut and run out of corporate greed. No balls. None. I would have respected them more if they had allowed the market — listeners — to make the decision as to whether they choose to hear what many people consider hate comedy. Strikes me as hypocritical to the core.

  • http://www.peopleagainstcensorship.com/ humpX

    My hats off to you Craig for being rational and pointing out how important context was when mentioning what took place. The media at large has, of course, largely ignored that aspect to allow outrage to grow and shuttle more ratings their way.

    Moral outrage sells evidently.

    the most troubling part is that both the right AND left are having a field day with jumping on their editorial soapboxes (what happened to just reporting news as a neutral party?) and encouraging an environment of fear to speak ones mind or express humor no matter how tasteless one may find it. I fail to see how any logical person can think the firings of Imus, JV and Elvis along with several other pending radio personality suspensions, is a good thing.

  • http://adreamersholiday.blogspot.com Lee Richards

    1.) Subscribers have every right to cancel for any reason that suits them. Corporations have a right to set their corporate policies. It is not government censorship of protected speech when a company decides to place certain limits on its employees. Your employer no doubt does the same. Movie theatre managers are within their rights–and responsibilities–to refuse to show a film they decide is inappropriate for their community of customers. XM executives decide how they want their company’s image to be perceived, and what they feel comfortable signing on to. Like it or not, that’s not a violation of anyone’s constitutional rights. If you want to take your business somewhere else, that’s free enterprise for you.

    2.) XM is a great listening experience for me, with more than enough diversity, choice and quality. My two radios stay on.

  • Michael Leigh

    I too canceled my 3 XM subs.I LOVE O&A and Ron & Fez on XM 202.If XM reinstates them, I may return.
    This is an XL PAY service. When I heard the comments made live, I laughed my a@@ off.The mutterings of a crazy homeless guy is radio gold. Nothing other “shock jocks” haven’t done in the past.

    Should I call my cable provider and complain when I hear a stand up comic do off color humor, on a channel that i pay a monthly fee for?

    FINALLY, an article that is a bit more fair and balanced then what I have seen.
    Thanks for the great article.
    I think not.You know what you are getting with O&A and Stern for that matter.

  • P Wong

    Often the media “reports” that a dj or host is fired due to “market pressure”. Really? When Dom Imus was fired, most polls showed people in support of Imus.

    With O&A, people are sending a clear message to XM. People are voting with their dollars. Why pay for something you were promised if the company isn’t really interested in giving you the product they were promoting.

    I say good for the O&A fans that cancel. I hope they set an example for all companies to not listen to the minor vocal groups, but listen to their own customers that actually pays their bills.

  • Rob in PHX

    Thanks for a well-written, full account of the original incident. I’m so tired of the big media outlets taking things out of context and only reporting an offensive line or two for pure shock value. It’s sickening. I cancelled my subscription a day after the so-called “suspension”, refusing an offer of three free months, refusing an offer of $77 for the year (half off) and not allowing them to cancel when my billing cycle ended on June 14th. I said cancel as of TODAY and credit the balance back to my card. I encourage everyone to do the same. THIS is what “market driven” means. Thanks again for the great article.

  • chrismgio

    Just to clarify, Anthony said nothing about punching women. He actually said “holding her down and down and f**king her”. Homeless Charlie made all the punching comments, and he is obviously mentally ill. Otherwise an excellent article.

  • http://renee renee

    I understand that some people might be offended by what was said but to go as far as to suspend them?? that’s bull. i just want to know how hard it is to turn the damn channel when you hear something that you don’t agree with. Besides, if you were listening that day, wouldn’t you kind of figure halfway through the show what their humor was based upon? Be responsible and don’t listen to it if you don’t like it..nobody’s forcing you to listen anyway.
    ~renee~

  • kevbo

    i also like many others have cancelled my account with those folks at Sirius XM until they bring back O&A!!!!!!! I also know of 5 of my friends with multiple subscriptions that are cancelling also. go bankrupt!!!!!