One of the more entertaining issues stemming from the announcement of the XM-Sirius merger has been to see the way the National Association of Broadcasters, the trade group for terrestrial radio stations, has handled itself. One of the key issues in getting government approval for the merger will be to see how the FCC, DOJ and other groups consider the market. If they view the satellite companies' competition solely as each other, approval will be unlikely. But if they correctly consider it to be the wider "audio entertainment" market, including iPods and MP3 players, internet services and, indeed, terrestrial radio, the merger stands a much better chance of approval. The NAB keeps taking every available opportunity to say how the merger is such a bad idea, but its continued drum-beating makes it pretty obvious that despite the party line, they really do see satellite radio as competition -- basically proving XM and Sirius' point. Further underlining the NAB's hypocrisy is the involvement of former Attorney General John Ashcroft on its behalf. He sent a letter to the current attorney general as an "antitrust expert" saying the merger shouldn't be approved, which in itself isn't too out of the ordinary for the hired shill/lobbyist game. But things got a little more interesting after the WSJ reported that before going to work for the NAB, Ashcroft made a sales call to XM and offered the company his services -- an offer which XM declined. Even though Ashcroft's spokeswoman defended his work for the NAB, saying it "was a clear call for Ashcroft", it would appear that the call was made clear by a check, rather than by any unbiased insight into the matter. Again, this really isn't too surprising for the way the lobbyist game works, but it's just further proof of their allegiance not to any issues, but rather simply to the money, and their odious effect on American politics.
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