NAB calls merger a "wrong headed monopoly"
After the anti-trust department of the Department of Justice okayed the merger of XM and Sirius satellite companies it would have seemed only a matter of a political rubber stamp from the FCC to complete the deal. Both Democrats on the Commission, Adelstein and Copps have indicated they would vote no while Republican members, Chairman Martin and Commissioner McDowell would vote to okay the deal. This left it in the hands of the Commission's newest member, Deborah Taylor Tate. The news is now that Tate will vote to approve the merger. She reportedly, wants a consent decree that would fine the combined companies $20 million for several violations attached to her yes vote.
Commissioner Adelstein had suggested a "bipartisan solution" with conditions that would include a six year price cap, 25% channels set aside for non commercial and minority owned stations and maybe most important for broadcasters, a requirement for interoperable radios that would receive HD radio. But chairman Martin shot down all the suggestions from Adelstein saying they would not be considered.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Broadcasters, who have fought the merger all the way, were visibly angry at the news and said the deal is not done yet. They issued this statement to New Radio Star a few moments ago...
Following news reports that the Federal Communications Commission will grant XM and Sirius Satellite Radio's request for a monopoly by a 3-2 vote, NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton issued the following statement:
"This sweetheart deal for Wall Street speculators is premised on a promise that a monopoly will provide consumers with lower prices, better service and more programming formats. Only members of the Flat Earth Society would buy into such specious nonsense.
"Just six years ago, the FCC denied a monopoly to the nation's only two satellite TV companies in a 5-0 vote. Yet today, the Commission is apparently preparing to grant a monopoly to the nation's only two satellite radio companies that in their 11 years of existence have had more luck flaunting the FCC's own rules than creating a successful business model.
"Historians will view this satellite radio giveaway as an irrational departure from 118 years of antitrust law wisely founded on the unassailable reality that competition serves consumers better than monopolies. NAB thanks Commissioners Copps and Adelstein -- along with consumer groups, 80 bipartisan members of Congress, and scores of labor, minority and antitrust organizations -- who stood against this wrongheaded monopoly. Given such overwhelming opposition, we're not convinced the final chapter of this book has been written."