Tuesday, July 29, 2008

FCC approves XM & Sirius merger. World to end at high noon.

Recently I accused FCC commissioner Jonathan Edelstein of "selling out" his normally-left-leaning values, in that he was willing to approve the XM-Sirius merger if various conditions were met. Conditions that were stricter than what had been originally proposed, but frankly, were ultimately meaningless in the face of a government-sanctioned monopoly...which is what XM/Sirius are.

I personally feel this merger is bad news no matter what conditions are imposed, hence my feelings about Edelstein.

Well, I give Edelstein some credit back. When it became apparent that fellow Commissioner Tate was the real sellout and cast the swing vote in favor of the merger...WITHOUT the extra conditions...Edelstein voted against it, after all.

This is still horrible news, but at least Edelstein gets some street cred back.

Quick reminder: both XM and Sirius have been paying quite a lot of money to NPR and other public radio content providers for the rights to air said pubradio programming. With a monopoly in place, you can bet that gravy train will be coming to an abrupt end pretty soon. This is bad news since that revenue was helping a lot to pay for other new initiatives, and it couldn't come at a worse time overall-economy-wise.

BTW, technically this is not over just yet. Various factions - like the NAB and NPR - can and no doubt will sue to block the merger. The merger will almost certainly be frozen until the court case is resolved, which will take months or years. In other words, long enough to see a new President into office. If Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama wins, by law that will shift the makeup of the five FCC commissioners, from three Republicans and two Democrats, to the reverse of that. It might even force the current FCC commissioner/chairman, right-wing, secrecy-obsessed, and under-Congressional-investigation Kevin Martin, out entirely.

Needless to say, an FCC commission with a Democratic makeup might be a lot more inclined to block the XM-Sirius merger. Even with Obama in the White House, I wouldn't take it to the bank, but it could happen. We'll see...

1 comment:

Tom Wilson said...

Hey, I stumbled on your site when looking for reviews on the $37.50 HD radio. Apparently, you have the same problems with yours that I have with mine - primarily the weak signal.

I wanted to make a comment on the "government sanctioned monopoly" line. The thing that bothers me about this is that while XM & Sirius do provide a pretty unique package (nowhere else can you get coast to coast radio coverage), I don't see them as the enemy of terrestrial radio. With all the restrictions the FCC placed on the merger, I don't reall think that they'll even realize most of the "synergies" that Mel keeps talking about.

I guess the thing that bugs me most is that I keep hearing the word "monopoly" when it's not really true. Sirius XM competes with all of the other things I spend money and time on for my news & entertainment: I subscribe to several podcasts, I have cable TV (and yes, I do use the cable radio channels), and I do listen to terrestrial radio, too.

Just because you work at a radio station doesn't automatically mean you have to tow the company line. I think the country needs satellite radio, just like it needs terrestrial radio, and the thing to do is for the NAB members and Sirius/XM to work together to make BOTH services better.

After all, the point was made at the very beginning: if satellite isn't competition, then the NAB wouldn't care what satellite does. The very fact that your employer cares so much about competition from satellite pretty much proves that there is competition, and hence no monopoly.

Having said all that, I like what I've read so far on your blog, and I'm going to add it to my feed list.