Unfortunately, my Attorney General was one of the AGs who signed a letter to the FCC, opposing the XM Sirius merger. I decided to write him a letter, letting him know I was not happy with that. I got a response today!
First, here is my letter: (Sorry for the Format, I am just cut/pasting)
It disheartens me to hear your staff asking the FCC to complete a "careful review" of the pending merger between Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio ("The Companies"). The FCC has had the ability to review this merger for well over a year, and has been in "official review"
according to the merger page for 334 days. This merger has gone on longer than the Exxon/Mobile merger or the Chevron/Texaco merger. Look at gas prices these days and the record profits these companies are putting out and tell me that these mergers were good for the consumers. Did you speak with the Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission on either of those two mergers? Throughout all of my research, I cannot find where ANY Attorney General voiced concern over those two mergers. Exxon Mobil Corp is now valued at nearly 475 billion, with Chevron Corp valued at 201 billion.
The proposed Sirius/XM merger is valued at a mere 14 billion, and has had more congressional inquiries than both of the oil mergers combined?
As a life-long Texan and a subscriber of XM Satellite Radio, I am perplexed at what you see as the potential for abuse by this "monopoly power" they call Satellite Radio. I am curious if you actually know much about these two companies at all. For instance, did you know that these two companies COMBINED had little more than 17 million subscribers? If you put them in with terrestrial radio broadcasters, these 17 million subscribers make up less than 5% of the total listening audience. In addition to this, do you realize that last year alone, the two companies combine to LOSE over
1 billion dollars?
The argument that The Companies are trying to put out is that they compete with more than just each other. They compete with terrestrial radio, MP3 players such as the iPod, streaming internet radio, radio over cell phones, etc, etc, etc. I will pose to you the exact same question that I pose to others that state that Sirius/XM would be a monopoly: If both companies went out of business TODAY, what would you listen to tomorrow?
Would you just sit in your quiet car wishing you had something to listen to?
Of course not. You would pop in a CD, or turn on AM/FM radio, or plug in your iPod.
In essence, by arguing that the merger of The Companies is to be considered a monopoly, you are stating that the Department of Justice, who ruled that the companies really do not even compete against themselves and allowed the merger to continue without a single concession, was completely incorrect in their judgment of their ruling. Perhaps you need to do something on the state and/or federal level to eliminate such an inept and incompetent group of people who are simply wasting taxpayer money then.
one of the largest groups of attorneys in the country cannot see that this merger is obviously a monopoly, as you say it is, I do not want to be paying their salary.
My next point to you, is that you encourage that if the merger is approved, that "The states expressed support for requiring the new generation of radio receivers to be capable of receiving terrestrial audio broadcasting formats, particularly HD radio, noting that this is a propitious time to for the FCC to support the deployment of HD radio receiving equipment." And who is supposed to pay for this inclusion?
aware that currently The Companies have to subsidize the manufacture of each of their radios? This means that all of those radios that you see out there for $50-$250 are there because part of the price has been paid for by The Companies. The terrestrial broadca sters have refused to subsidize their radios, which is why they sell for well over $300, even in discount stores such as Wal-Mart. It is not competition that is limiting the sale of HD radios; it is the refusal of the industry to subsidize those radios.
want to make it mandatory for Sirius/XM to include these in their own radios? That would make the cost of even the cheapest Satellite Radio over $300, yet you claim that you are advocating for the consumer? It sounds more like you are advocating for terrestrial radio. Why should The Companies be forced to pay to have HD installed when the HD Alliance will not even pay for it?
Finally, your staff indicates that it supports a letter written on April 24th by another group of Attorneys General requiring that the licensees lease a meaningful portion of their satellite systems to another firm or firms. As I have stated before, I am not sure exactly how much you know about Satellite Radio and the way the radios work. XM and Sirius currently utilize differing technology to broadcast their respective systems. According to multiple filings and statements by the management of both companies, this technology is not compatible with each other. Yes, you can argue that The Companies never abided by the Interoperability Mandate that the FCC put into place which would have solved this issue, but even the FCC has not determined if they have complied or not because of the ambiguous language of the statement. A merger such as this is not simply about the licenses. If the company is allowed to merge, it is projected that they will still have to broadcast completely separate systems for a period of
years until they are able to combine their systems. If your recommendation is accepted and The Companies are forced to lease 20% of their combined spectrum or more, that means that the over 17 million subscribers will loose 10% of the content from each service. At this time, 10% of content is equal to about 15-20 channels from each service. Which 20 channels do you propose they shut off in order to be friendly to the consumers?
In conclusion, it is mind boggling how you can consider this merger bad for the consumers. The FCC ECFS system has well over 15,000 comments on the merger, and a large majority of those comments are IN FAVOR of the merger. Some of the most popular and powerful groups in the United States including LULAC and the NAACP have come out in favor of the merger.
THESE are the consumers that you are supposed to be fighting for. I am the consumer you are supposed to be fighting for. I listen to satellite radio because terrestrial radio has continued with the same stale programming it has had for years. This merger is not bad for the consumer; it is bad for terrestrial radio. That statement enough should prove that there is competition between the two. Satellite Radio offers some of the most diverse programming available anywhere and siphoning off spectrum will only cause The Companies to dilute or flat out eliminate that programming. That does not sound very consumer friendly to me.
If you wish to contact me about this letter, feel free. I would love to discuss it.
And it only took them 2 weeks to come up with this response!!Originally Posted by My AG office