by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
astroturfing, lobbyist spamming, mergers, nab

nab, sirius, xm

NAB Spams FCC Over XM-Sirius Merger; Uses People Who Claim They Had Nothing To Do With It

from the sleazy-tactics dept

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has been pulling out all the stops in fighting the proposed merger between XM and Sirius. What's most amusing is that the NAB's active involvement in the campaign against the merger weakens its own argument. After all, if XM and Sirius really would represent a monopoly, then doesn't that mean that the terrestrial broadcasters the NAB represents don't compete with XM and Sirius and therefore shouldn't care about the merger? Yet, the NAB keeps on fighting despite this rather obvious problem with its position. It seems as though the NAB can't resist pulling out just about every dirty trick in the playbook. It set up astroturf groups to create a pretend grassroots campaign against the merger. It also paid for a "independent" report from a research firm who had previously claimed that terrestrial radio and satellite radio competed -- but quickly changed its tune when the NAB was funding a study.

The latest is that, in the tradition of many other astroturfing campaigns, it bombarded the FCC with letters from "real people" against the merger. There's just one big problem. It would appear that many of those people have no idea they wrote the FCC, and some even claim they're in favor of the merger. That's what a Washington Post investigation found when it tried to track down the people who supposedly used the NAB's spam-o-matic website to protest the merger. Most of the people couldn't even be reached at all, suggesting that they might not even exist. Of those who were actually reached, nine out of ten claimed they had nothing to do with contacting the FCC and the 10th says she remembered reading something about the merger but doesn't remember protesting it to the FCC.

The NAB insists that its program is perfectly legitimate, and that the emailers all meant to protest the merger. An NAB spokesperson claimed: "It was a fairly rigorous process." How rigorous? Take a look at some of the quotes from folks who the NAB claims are absolutely against the merger and then let us know just how "rigorous" the process was:
  • "How did they get my name? I don't want someone using my name for something I don't even know about."
  • "No sir, I never sent any notes to Washington. This call is the first time I've heard of this."
  • "I never sent an e-mail. I don't even know about the issue."
  • "I don't know what the merger is about and I don't care. I have no idea what you're talking about."
  • "Where did they get my name? If anything, I'd be for [the merger]."
Quite rigorous over there at the NAB, huh?

Reader Comments

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  • identicon
    HuH?, 27 Nov 2007 @ 3:52am


    What comment are you talking about? I have never posted a comment!?!?!?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pho, 27 Nov 2007 @ 4:49am

    Just Plain Silly

    I admit I am a Stern Fan so this sentiment echoes many of the things he has said on the air. However, opposition to this merger and the amount of time it has dragged on is just nuts.

    Both Sirius and XM are struggling to stay afloat and without the merger one of them will likely fail before too long. When one of them fails it leaves their customers with a bunch of useless equipment and no service.
    If they want to move to the other company they will have to buy a new radio and start all over again. Many of them won't.

    So which is more harmful to the consumer, condemning one company to failure and leaving it's customers with a bunch of useless gear or allowing these two companies to merge into a stronger business that can effectively compete with terrestrial radio, mp3s, internet radio, etc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      I Agree, 27 Nov 2007 @ 6:26am

      Re: Just Plain Silly

      I'm a Sirius customer and I'm looking forward to getting some additional channels. However, if the merger fails and Sirius goes out of business, I'll probably just go back to listening to my CDs.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), 27 Nov 2007 @ 6:30am


    Does anyone remember sending the email? If they only reached 10 people of the 60 people that "didn't" click through the ad there is a good chance that if you found 5 that remember doing it then the others just forgot what they did or didn't know what they were doing. The Post needs to keep calling the unanswered phones. Sure they can't reach the disconnected ones but people move. The article makes no distinction of how many of the 50 were unanswered or disconnected. The Post probably made one call in the middle of the day when people aren't around. Plus, how many people put their real name or phone number in these forms. Maybe we can wait a few months and call the 10 respondents and ask if they remember talking to the Post about the merger. =P

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ajax 4Hire, 27 Nov 2007 @ 6:55am

    The satellites are not going away..

    The XM and Sirius Satellites are not going away.
    Terrestrial broadcast will have to knock the orbiting antenna out of the sky. Only then will the local radio station be safe from the menace from above!!!

    I know XM and Sirius are having a tough go at defining a profitable business but local broadcast is on its way out. I don't just mean radio.

    Evolve or die or evolve and die.
    In any event we all die, it is how well you adapt to your environment that defines your success.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    JustMe, 27 Nov 2007 @ 6:59am

    In Soviet Russia...

    Comments post you!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    JustMe, 27 Nov 2007 @ 7:06am

    But back on topic

    I assume their email campaign pop-ups are fairly recent. How many people will have moved in the last month? Absent the beginning/ending of a college school year I think that 2/60 would be a high number of disconnections.

    Also, there is a difference that should be mentioned. I expect that fewer people will remember clicking a button vs. typing their email and physical address two times, which is what they claim was required in this case. Because of the spam problem people have been a LOT more careful about divulging this sort of information in the last year or two.

    Full disclosure, you can have my 2 Sirius radios when you pry them from my cold dead fingers. There simply isn't enough traditional AM/FM coverage in the remote parts of the country, and certainly no AM/FM stations give me local weather and traffic every five minutes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    The Man, 27 Nov 2007 @ 8:54am

    Talk about not understanding markets

    Mike spends a lot of time on record companies, but radio networks are in close to the same trouble. And they are all ready free, so the magic of becoming rich from not charging for a product has already gone away. If the NAB spends one dollar to fight the satellite companies it proves that they are not a monopoly, but direct competition with radio. I think Sirius is the best audio entertainment ever invented. Radio sucks, mp3 players are a pain in the ass and get boring, Sirius has all the music you want, talk shows and Howard / Bubba. How can you go wrong?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    iheartsatrad, 27 Nov 2007 @ 9:32am

    "mp3s are a pain in the ass" Whaaaaa! How stupid are YOU! Lazy people like you desreve retarded radio. Its worth it to most people to spend the time to download quality music and entertainment from the web. Both Sirius and XM play the same 10 songs (fm anyone?) over and over and over and over. And as far as sound quality from those bandwidth challenged companies....ive heard Ron Jeremy farts on bad 70s porno films that sound cleaner and brighter then those so called "music" channels.....Please! Dont scare me with your cheesy satellite radio.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      The Man, 27 Nov 2007 @ 10:50am

      Re: MP3 Players Suck

      "How stupid are YOU! Lazy people like you deserve retarded radio."

      I disagree with the above statement and counter with the fact that MP3 people are either lazy or kids with a lot of time on their hands. I work a 50+ hour day job and own a restaurant, which I work at as soon as I get off of work and on the weekends. It would be wonderful to be lazy enough to spend hours finding and cataloging music and shows. I cannot even mow my lawn in the winter because it gets dark to early. It is very nice to be able to just turn on the radio and choose the music or shows I want without having to spend any time at all downloading it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Nov 2007 @ 11:36am


      You listen to Ron Jeremy farts? Now that is some mighty big weirdness.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Nov 2007 @ 4:47pm

    You should see the HUGE banner on the front of NAB's office building. It's directly across the street from Revolution Health's D.C. offices.

    What a sham!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Fartman, 27 Nov 2007 @ 10:39pm


    The great Fartman is here to butt-mail a blast of stinky brown wind on the NAB spam scammers!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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