In addition to its regular attempts to pass anti-satellite radio legislation, the lobbying efforts by the National Association of Broadcasters, a group representing the terrestrial radio industry, have been kicked up a notch lately with the proposed merger of Sirius and XM. They've already hired former Attorney General John Ashcroft as a shill (but only after XM declined his services), but now it appears they might be getting into astroturfing -- the practice of setting up fake grassroots consumer groups to try and sway public and political opinion. Orbitcast points to a report on the Corporate Crime Reporter about the "Consumer Coalition for Competition in Satellite Radio", or C3SR, and how it is supported by the NAB. The group was supposedly made up of some law students who are satellite radio subscribers who want to stop the merger. While its founder is indeed a part-time law student, he's also a full-time employee of the lobbying arm of a Washington law firm. The head of the law firm's practice is a former assistant general counsel at the NAB, which could be excused as a coincidence. However, the C3SR founder admits that the NAB "supports" the group, but won't detail what that support entails, saying, "If we were out there in the media telling people who funded us, it would detract from support from different groups." Perhaps because if people knew it was funded by the NAB, it would have even less credibility? What's so amusing about all of the NAB's antics in this case are that the more strenuously (and ridiculously) it voices its opposition to the merger, the more it proves that the NAB sees XM and Sirius as competition -- thus proving one of the companies' main arguments why their merger should be approved.
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