Merger watchers see many opinions regarding the merger. Merger proponents offer opinion, merger opponents offer opinion, analysts offer opinion, and consumers offer opinion. The opinion that matters most is with the regulators.
The Department of Justice and the FCC have to take in and consider opinions from many sources. They have to consider not only the opinion that is being given, but the context of that opinion. Throughout this process, it is rare to see one of these regulators say very much of anything that the press can consider directly impacting or directly relating to a specific ongoing merger.
It is because of this that we must look at other current issues, and measure stances on those issues. In conjunction with this merger, the FCC is considering rules changes that could potentially bring something called Low Powered FM into reality. Recently, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps was interviewed by Bill Moyers. The interview is about 20 minutes long, and is well worth watching if you are following the proposed merger of Sirius and XM. In fact, I would strongly suggest that you take a moment to watch the interview prior to reading any further in this piece.
Hopefully you have watched the interview by this point. Early on in the piece, a public meeting where consumer input was sought, Commissioner Copps states,”Well re’re back at square one, and it’s all up for grabs, and if we’re going to do a better job at it this time around it’s going to be because of input from folks like you.”
The FCC is looking for the opinions of citizens.
One question asked of the audience was, “Is American radio better today than it was 10 years ago?”
There was a resounding “NO” from the audience, and one of the reasons is diversity.
Sirius and XM merger watchers may have mixed feelings about comments made by Commissioner Copps, and this is the case for both proponents and opponents of the merger. Copps’ comments illustrate the vastness of what needs to be considered in the merger process. There are indeed many moving parts.
In the interview, Copps mentions strongly that the term “PUBLIC INTEREST” happens 112 times in the Telecommunications Act. This statement by Copps shows where one of the primary concerns will be with the Sirius and XM merger. Is the proposed merger in the public interest (or consumer interest)? We have seen many arguments on both sides of this issue placed before the FCC. It is the job of the FCC (as well as the DOJ) to decide which case has more merit.
What merger watchers can gain from viewing this video is the breadth of scope that Commissioners such as Copps need to consider. The FCC is well aware of the fact that technologies are overlapping now far more than they ever have. They fully recognize that the definition of media has taken on a new meaning and a new definition in a very short period of time. Copps feels that decisions need to be made with a VISION. This speaks volumes for merger watchers. It should tell you that decisions before the FCC will not only look at the impacts today, but will consider the impacts of tomorrow as well.
In my opinion, one of the most poignant statements made by Copps came in two separate four word statements, “THE FUTURE IS INTERCONNECTED” and "CITIZEN ACTION CAN WORK". Regardless of your stance on the merger, one thing is certain. The FCC and the DOJ will give full and due consideration to many opinions, and further, will give due consideration to what this decision will mean in the future.
I would like to give a special thanks to a Sirius Buzz reader, Bruce Stevens for forwarding the interview and bringing it to my attention.
Position – Long Sirius, Long XM