As the merger process has evolved over the last 10 months, the NAB seems to be taking a new tact. Early in the process, the main spokesman seemed to be David Rehr, the President and CEO of the NAB. Rehr testified in congressional hearings and was quite vocal regarding the merger in the early months. Many of Rehr's statements have been used to counter his own arguments, and Rehr became a virtual lighting rod for the angst of merger supporters.
For the past couple of months though, the NAB seems to have rolled out Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton as the lead spokesman in merger matters. Even as the latest folly regarding the form letter campaign, it was Wharton who took the call and not Rehr.
This leads one to ask why? Why has Rehr taken a back seat on this issue? Did he lose credibility with mischaracterizing the sentiment of senators, or was it the mischaracterization of Toyota that drove Rehr behind the curtain? Perhaps it was differing stances depending on whether he was talking about the Sirius and XM merger, or the desired consolidation of in media. Perhaps it was tied to the comments relating to the competitive landscape where he stated that satellite competes with terrestrial, but terrestrial does not compete with satellite. Did these issues marginalize the stature of David Rehr? Is this what necessitated Wharton to take on a larger role?
Now, the heat is on Dennis Wharton. Thousands of comments filed with the FCC seem to have been done so without specific knowledge of those who allegedly filed the comment. People had their identities attached to a letter that they never saw, and that letter was made public complete with the names and addresses of these people. Are these people victims of the NAB's tactics? Do they feel that their opinion was taken fraudulently? Is the NAB so desperate that they would stoop to buying vague pop-up advertisements on the Internet, and using the names and addresses of people to submit comments to the FCC?
Some seem to not think that this issue is a big deal. The fact of the matter is that this is a huge deal. There is a very distinct difference when people knowingly engage a website with the intention of filing an opinion with the FCC, and having some innocuous slanted and misleading survey gather information and use that information in a manner which was not intended.The NAB tactics and actions in this matter are cheap, slimy, and downright misleading, and perhaps border on identity theft or fraud. No matter what your opinion on the merger, the actions of the National Association of Broadcasters should sicken each and every one of us. How would you feel if your identity were used for an opinion on abortion, religion, or even political stance?
Imagine for a moment that you are pro-choice. You are looking to buy office supplies and log onto the Staples website. You see a pop up add that says, "Murder is bad. Do you want to help stop murder? - Click Yes To help Stop Murder". Of course, you go ahead and click yes. A dialogue box pops up and asks for your name and address. You fill it out so that you can get to the main website and place your office supply order. Unknown to you, a letter goes to each congressman stating that you are against abortion and consider it murder. This letter is in the public record with YOUR NAME and YOUR ADDRESS attached to it? If you were really pro-choice would you be upset? You bet you would! (The author is taking no stance on abortion).
This is effectively what the NAB has done. Should this type of activity anger you. YES IT SHOULD. Should something be done about it? YES IT SHOULD! There is an easy way for you to let your opinion be known. The Siriusmerger and XMMerger websites allow you to contact both the FCC as well as congress, and to make that contact in your own words. You have the opportunity to not only express your opinion on the merger, but to also expose the underhanded tactics of the NAB. This merger has been a long process. Don't you owe it to yourself to ensure that your original comments are not watered down by those who had no idea they were even commenting? Don't you owe it to yourself to expose underhanded activities that the National Association of Broadcasters is using? Don't sit back and allow Rehr and Wharton to run roughshot over you. Fight back, and do so in a manner that is dignified and true!
Is Wharton covering David's Rehr? In my opinion, there is egg on the face both of these men now. There is no level of damage control that they can employ to come out of this with any sense of pride. They have been bagged and exposed time and time again in this process. They are so far down the path of deceit that they likely can not turn back. This behavior will continue if left unchecked. Merger or no merger, sector followers owe it to themselves to take a stand against these tactics.
Position - Long Sirius, XM