Saturday, March 24, 2007


I'm always a couple of weeks behind reading The New Yorker, so I only now got around to reading James Surowiecki's analysis of the proposed satellite radio merger between Sirius and XM. Great analysis of why it wouldn't be anti-competitive to allow the merger (due to the real scope of the competitive field for the merged company).

For myself, I do hope it goes through, as I feel it would make better one of the great things in the world right now. I've always loved radio. One of my favorite memories as a kid was listening in bed, through a pillow speaker, to the CBS Radio Mystery Theatre.

I love all kinds of radio -- music, sports, news, you name it. What makes Sirius great is that it is all those wrapped into one -- along with, of course, the indispensable Howard Stern. About 120 channels of everything under the sun. Now that I have it I wouldn't want to be without it.

It seems to me that merging the companies would only serve to stabilize what has been a financially precarious proposition -- while only adding value to what is already a value-rich medium.

Of course, given the highest-bidder state of politics in this country, there is no way it gets a fair shake.
The National Association of Broadcasters, which represents commercial radio stations, has lobbied hard against the deal, arguing that XM and Sirius compete only with each other. But the very fact that broadcasters are fighting the merger demonstrates that they view Sirius and XM as a threat. Similarly, for fifteen years AM/FM stations have done everything they could to cripple satellite radio, lobbying the F.C.C. to stop its roll-out in the nineteen-nineties and persistently trying to limit the types of programming XM and Sirius can carry.
It seems pretty clear, in the end, that the narrow interests of the NAB will probably win out over the wider interests of consumers, and federal regulators will probably kill this deal.

Too bad.


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