Monday, March 24, 2008

XM And Sirius Finally Allowed To Merge by the DoJ!

This is probably not on the radar screens of many people, but it's an interesting story on a few different levels. The Department of Justice has approved the merger after over a year of doing apparently not much of anything (the Exxon-Mobil merger was approved much quicker).

I've been a Sirius subscriber since August 2006, and I love the programming. I chose it over XM for two reasons: Howard Stern and the NFL! I've come to sometimes enjoy Bubba the Love Sponge as well, though the guy is a total hillbilly. It would be nice if you could get the programming for both of them in one package for those that are into baseball (XM only), and football (Sirius only). They both also have different specialty music channels. Sirius for instance has a Sinatra channel and a Springsteen channel.

There are a couple interesting side stories to this. First, the National Association of Broadcasters, the NAB, is dead-set against the merger. This is the group that represents traditional radio. They say the merger would be anti-competitive. They of course have a vested interest in this deal because since both Sirius and XM are losing money, and if they are not allowed to merge, they might both go under. This would be great for free radio of course, since they would again own the radio airwaves. They recently had a big banner on their headquarters in DC against the merger that I believe said "XM + Sirius = Monopoly". Of course, it's OK with them that a few companies, including ClearChannel, own most of the radio stations in the US. They even hired good old John Ashcroft to help make their case after XM turned him down (remember him, the one who put a drape over a naked statue?). I guess Ashcroft doesn't particularly have any convictions on this subject.

Speaking of the religious right, the other undercurrent to this story is that despite the DoJ ruling, the deal now has to be approved by the FCC. Yes, they probably would approve the merger, but they could approve it with conditions, and it has been suggested in some circles that that the FCC may try to put restrictions on content. Then Howard Stern and many of the other channels could be thrown right back into the "what is OK and not OK" hell that any "edgy" show on free radio is in these days. Let's hope that doesn't happen, since most adults like our entertainment uncensored, and we like to have choices.

1 comment:

Two Dogs said...

I am on XM, does that surprise you? Baseball, baby. Oddly enough, the football thing doesn't bother me that much because the most that I do during football season is watch the game ticker. If there is a game that I do want to watch, I do that on television.

Any satelite radio blows the doors off free broadcasting though.