Promoting the Competition?
I'm not going to address that issue specifically. I can see both sides of the argument. Instead, I'll point out some of the interesting questions raised by the issue.
If local programming is the future of public radio, especially the local content inserted in Morning Edition, then why is satellite radio considered serious competition? It shouldn't be, unless the talk about local programming being the future is more bravado than reality.
If something on satellite radio right now is more appealing to a station's listeners than the station's programming, shouldn't the station fix its programming?
If interactive is the future of public broadcasting (or public media if you prefer), shouldn't all web sites be considered competition? Or at least those with audio and video? If so, there goes the underwriting revenue.
If there is one thing I am certain about when it comes to underwriting it is this: the issues get less clear and the decisions get more difficult over time. NPR's acceptance of the Sirius credit is just an indicator of the tough choices ahead. Ultimately, the money on the table will cause public radio's networks and stations to further liberalize their underwriting acceptance policies even if that means promoting the competition.
That leads us to the one thing I am certain about when it comes to programming: the best way to fight off the competition is to be better than the competition.