Letter to FCC, Congressman Rush
To Whom It May Concern:
There has been a lot of talk lately regarding Minority Ownership in conjunction with the Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Radio (The Companies) merger. Not surprisingly, the large majority of this discussion is coming from African American Congressmen and businessmen.
My question to you is Why? The Companies currently have one of, if not the most, diverse programming lineups available to be heard on one service (if the merger is approved). It would be difficult to find anything comparable, even if you include cable and/or satellite TV. All you have to do is pick what you want to listen to, and you have it.
African American Programming
Sirius Channel 106 The Foxxhole Comedy and more presented by Jamie Foxx
Sirius Channel 43 Backspin Old Skool Rap
Sirius Channel 71 Jazz Cafι Smooth Jazz
Sirius Channel 72 Pure Jazz Classic Jazz
Sirius Channel 73 Spa 73 New Age Jazz
Sirius Channel 74 SIRIUS Blues Jazz/Blues
XM Channel 70 Real Jazz Traditional Jazz
XM Channel 71 Watercolors Contemporary/Smooth Jazz
XM Channel 72 Beyond Jazz Modern Jazz
XM Channel 73 High Standards American Standards
XM Channel 74 Bluesville Blues
XM Channel 101 The Joint Reggae
XM Channel 169 The Power African American Talk
Sirius Channel 90 Universo Latino Latin Pop Mix
Sirius Channel 92 Bumbon Reggaeton/Tropical
Sirius Channel 181 ESPN Deportes Spanish broadcast of ESPN
Sirius Channel 182 CNN En Espanol CNN in Spanish
XM Channel 91 Viva Latin Pop Hits
XM Channel 92 Aquila Regional Mexican
XM Channel 93 Caricia Spanish Oldies
XM Channel 94 Caliente Tropical
XM Channel 102 Sur La Route Spanish Pop Hits
XM Channel 126 CNN en Espanol CNN in Spanish
XM Channel 147 XM Deportivo Spanish Sports Talk
Other Nationality Programming
Sirius Channel 11 BBC Radio 1 New Music from the U.K.
Sirius Channel 93 Bande a part New French-language Music
Sirius Channel 94 CBC Radio 3 Canadian Indie Music
Sirius Channel 95 Iceberg Radio Canadian Adult Alternative Music
Sirius Channel 138 Premiere Plus Canadian Current Affairs
Sirius Channel183 The Korean Channel Korean Language Radio
Sirius Channel 185 Canadian Weather Network Canadian Weather
Sirius Channel 187 Sports Extra Sports radio French Language
Sirius Channel 188 RCI Plus International Talk French Language
XM Channel 131 BBC World Service
XM Channel 159 ATN Asian Radio
XM Channel 244 Canada 360 News and Information
XM Channel 245 Quoi de Neuf News and Information
Sirius Channel 66 The Spirit Christian music
Sirius Channel 67 Praise Gospel Music
Sirius Channel 159 The Catholic Channel
Sirius Channel 160 EWTN Global Catholic Network
Sirius Channel 161 FamilyNet Radio Christian Talk
XM Channel 32 The Message Christian Pop and Rock
XM Channel 33 Spirit Gospel
XM Channel 34 enlighten Southern Gospel
XM Channel 170 Family Talk Christian Talk
Sirius Channel 144 SIRIUS Patriot Conservative values
Sirius Channel 146 SIRIUS Left Liberal talk
XM Channel 130 POTUS 08 Unbiased Presidential Campaign Coverage
XM Channel 166 America Right Conservative Talk
XM Channel 167 Progressive Talk
In addition to regularly scheduled programming, The Companies both have regular specials dedicated to diversity. Simply looking at recent press releases will show you this.
Sirius & XM Press Releases
SIRIUS Satellite Radio Signs Mark Thompson, Trailblazing African-American Political
Talk Host and Human Rights Leader to host a daily 3-hour show.
SIRIUS Satellite Radio To Honor Black Music Month With Dedicated Programming
SIRIUS Satellite Radio To broadcast Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum Live
SIRIUS Satellite Radio To Observe martin Luther King, Jr. Day with Special talk and
SIRIUS Satellite Radio Celebrates Black History Month
Talk Radio Star Joe Madison The Black Eagle Joins XM Satellite Radio
XMs The Power, The Only National African-American Talk Radio Channel, Expands
Lineup With New Shows
39th Annual Dove Awards To Broadcast Live On XM April 23
XM Satellite Radios Presidential Election Channel POTUS 08 To Broadcast
Nationwide From Philadelphias Landmark Restaurant Pats King Of Steaks on Pennsylvania Primary Day April 22
XM Radio Joins With EWTN Global Catholic Network to Launch Papal U.S. Visit 08
Channel On XM
XM Celebrates Black History Month With Original Programming and Specials Featuring
Gamble & Huff, Aaron Neville, Natalie Cole, and Many Others
Above, I have listed 51 separate channels that The Companies have dedicated to broadcasting diverse content which include music, news, sports, and talk. This is 51 channels out of a combined 300, which represents nearly 20% of their available spectrum. In addition to that, I have pointed out 11 separate press releases that have been released since the beginning of 2008 that signify the diversity of programming that The Companies have sought. Recently, however, there are several people and groups that apparently feel that this is not sufficient.
On May 5th, news was released that two prominent Congressmen wrote a letter to FCC Commissioner Kevin Martin praising The Companies for pledging to lease eight channels to minority owners. These two Congressmen were identified as Congressman Towns (D-NY) and Congressman Rush (D-IL). Today, however, Congressman Rush retracted part of that statement, stating :
I wish to disassociate myself from a letter to [Martin], dates May 5, 2008 and signed by Congressman Towns and me, which I stated that I fully supported XMs and Sirius voluntary commitments, [that] the combined company will agree to provide under long-term leases eight channels on the combined system (four on each system) to minority owners. While I certainly believe its important to dedicate channels for minority ownership, I do not believe a mere eight channels out of 300 total in the combined entity represents an important and realistic effort to address the dearth of minority ownership. In reality, I firmly believe that XM and Sirius can designate far more channels than eight for minority ownership.
I am curious if Congressman Rush has ever listened to satellite radio and knows what all it offers. It would appear as if he had, because he goes on to say:
the merger will create new opportunities for diverse programming that has been overlooked by terrestrial-radio broadcasters.
Congressman Rush is absolutely correct. The merger will create new opportunities for diversity. In fact, a large number of independent groups have come out in favor of this merger because The Companies have promoted diversity. Which groups?
Second District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
Independent Womens Forum
Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology Association (LISTA)
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
National Council of Womans Organizations
National Latino Farmers and Ranchers
New York State Federation of Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
National Black Chamber of Commerce
The Latino Coalition
Women Impacting Public Policy
Women Involved in Farm Economics
Many, Many more
My question, however, does Congressman Rush care about the CONTENT of the channels, or simply the OWNERS of the channels? According to the article, he points out that people of color make up 35% of the American Population and says, I see no reason why a combined XM-Sirius satellite radio company should not dedicate a number of channels for minority ownership that is more reflective of the general population. [emphasis added]. Perhaps Congressman Rush is not aware, but the current President and Interim CEO of XM Satellite Radio is Nate Davis, an African-American.
So, which is it? Are we supposed to care more about the content that is being broadcast or the people who own the station? To me, I could care less who owns the station. To me, it matters what is being said and what is being played. As indicated above, some of the most powerful and popular minority interest organizations have supported the merger based on what is being broadcast.
Do you know what the greatest thing is though, Congressman Rush? If you are more concerned about minority ownership in Satellite Radio than what is being broadcast, it is a publicly traded company and you can always buy shares. Congratulations, you are now a minority owner of a Satellite Radio Company.