congressmanrush.JPGReports over the past two days from numerous sources including two stories here, Big News On Satellite Merger - 8 Minority Channels and 8 minority Channels Seen As Good For Merger have spoken of a letter of support drafted by two minority congressmen on the House telecommunications subcommittee. In a Radio Ink article, the two have been identified as Congressman Towns (D-NY) and Rush (D-IL). Both men are African American members of the committee chaired by congressman Markey.

The initial letter praised the commitment of 8 channels to minority ownership as a part of the proposed merger, and was viewed by many as a big boost for the merger. Today, Congressman Rush retracted some of what was stated in the letter.

"I wish to disassociate myself from a letter to [Martin], dated May 5, 2008 and signed by Congressman [Edolphus] Towns and me, which stated that I fully supported 'Xm's 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 it's 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 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."

"voluntary agreement reached by XM and Sirius" does not satisfy my advocacy for a more aggressive policy that emulates the real diversity of the American public."

Rush is still a supporter of the merger saying that, " the merger will create new opportunities for diverse programming that has been overlooked by terrestrial-radio broadcasters." It would appear that congressman Rush would like to see more ownership for minorities in satellite radio. Ironically, neither Sirius nor XM are privately owned. As publicly traded companies, the "ownership" can be as diverse as those that choose to invest.

Whether this latest development will temper the enthusiasm that has built over the last few days will not be known until the market opens tomorrow. What was a pretty powerful at one point (a supporting letter from two minority democrats) has now lost a bit of its shine.

[ Via RadioInk ]

Position - Long Sirius, Long XM