It's been pretty clear for some time that the National Association of Broadcasters' opposition to the merger of XM and Sirius isn't based on any concern for the public, as it would like you to believe, but rather is an attempt to get the government to bolster its struggling business because it doesn't want to compete
in the marketplace. We've pointed out before that it's that behavior that rankles us
in this case, rather than any real desire to see a merged XM-Sirius. What the NAB is doing -- the astroturfing
, the paid shills
, the conflicts of interest
, the not-so-independent
research, and most of all, the utter hypocrisy
-- is representative of so many other entrenched industries that will do anything
they can to avoid having to actually compete in the marketplace. With all that in mind, it's nice to see people starting to catch on that the NAB's self-serving agenda means it really shouldn't have any part in the debate about the XM-Sirius merger, as The Wall Street Journal did
over the weekend. As an editorial in the paper put it:
"No one knows whether the public will ever really take to the pay model, but it's not the role of the government to help the NAB smother a fledgling competitor in the crib... Telecom policy should not be about picking winners and losers but about encouraging investment and innovation. For that to happen, what's most important is competition among technological platforms: cable, telephone, wireless and satellite (for now). Policy makers and regulators would do better to focus less on static models of market share within one platform and more on making sure rival platforms continue to exist. Consumers will happily take care of the rest."
That cuts to the heart of the issue: the NAB wants the government to give it, in essence, a subsidy to protect its business -- just as it's tried to do so many times before
, with so many other technologies. Blocking this merger won't block anticompetitive behavior from XM and Sirius, it will empower anticompetitive behavior from the NAB's terrestrial radio membership.