stories about: "nab"
Wed, Jul 25th 2007 7:44pm
While comments filed with the FCC in support of the merger of satellite radio companies XM and Sirius outnumber those opposing it by nearly a four to one margin, they're not seen by many people to carry the same influence as those arguing against the merger. For instance, more than 70 Congressmen have told the heads of the FCC, DOJ and FTC that they should block the merger, and as stock pundit Jim Cramer points out, this has little to do with anything other than legislators' self-interest, since they don't want to upset local broadcasters in their constituencies. He adds that since XM and Sirius are up against such powerful opposition, they've had to go for broke, by announcing pricing plans that, if the merger's approved, could slice their average per-subscriber revenue. The plans offer consumers the ability to choose channels on an a la carte basis -- a move that looks like it's designed to appeal to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, for whom indecent programming is always an issue. At the outset of the merger announcement, Martin said that XM and Sirius would have to show that "consumers would clearly be better off with both more choice and affordable prices" before the FCC would approve the deal. These new plans would appear to deliver consumers more choices and control over the content they receive, and do so at lower prices. But it's still hard to see that being enough to overcome politicians' objections, fueled by the National Association of Broadcasters' clout.
Mon, Jul 9th 2007 4:12pm
from the or-maybe-the-hispanic-chamber-of-commerce dept
Reasonable people could disagree about when it's best to disallow a given merger on antitrust grounds, but our current system seems both arbitrary and open to manipulation by interested parties. Standing athwart XM and Sirius' attempt to merge is the National Association of Broadcasters, which has tried to make the claim that the merger would eliminate any competition for the companies, a point which is undermined by the NAB's own interest in the outcome. It's obvious why the NAB is interested: It's not that it has some lofty ideals about competition, but rather it fears for the future of its own members, should the companies be allowed to merge. In addition to making its arguments directly, the NAB has also turned to the practice of astoturfing, the establishment of phony grassroots organizations that are in fact nothing more than shill groups. Blatantly self-interested lobbying isn't just limited to the NAB, however. Lobbyists representing the satellite radio firms have cobbled together an odd coalition of supporters, including Southern Baptists, businesswomen, rural voters and Hispanic chambers of commerce. A representative of one group, Women Involved in Farm Economics (WIFE), tells The Wall Street Journal that her group supports the merger because it could allow for expanded radio coverage in rural areas. She also makes the good point that the government seems to have multiple standards depending on the industry, noting that little has been done to prevent consolidation in the meatpacking market (which directly affects WIFE's constituents). Her points are valid, but it's still disturbing that these issues are decided, in large part, by which side can marshal the necessary lobbying firepower, rather than some standard for what's a legitimate level of consolidation within an industry.