The National Association of Broadcasters today filed a motion with the FCC to stop the timeclock associated with the proposed merger of Sirius and XM. Such a motion was not unexpected, and that in and of itself should take no one by surprise. The more interesting aspect of this motion is the reasoning behind it.
The NAB wants the clock stopped so that they can review documents relating not to the merger, but rather the issue surrounding FM modulators that were out of compliance in 2006, as well as an issue surrounding the placement, use, and power level of terrestrial repeaters. Both of these enforcement issues were some negative highlights in the SDARS sector last year.
It is the position of the National Association of Broadcasters that since Sirius and XM had violations surrounding these items in the past that they can not be trusted to keep promises made surrounding the merger, and therefore the merger may not be in the public interest.
Now here is what needs to be considered:
1. Does the fact that there were violations in the past mean that a merger is not in the public interest? The issue at hand is if the merger will benefit the consumer. In terms of these particular violations, the satellite radio consumer was actually given better service. Now, that does not mean that these violations were justified. In fact, Sirius and XM responded to concerns surrounding these issues promptly and quickly, and have since exhibited no such violations.
2. Can the NAB state that their membership can be trusted? NO. Payola violations, decency violations, and conspiracies have all plagued members of the NAB for decades, and yet more and more such violations come to light each year. Since when have the NAB membership shined as a pristine example of good conduct?
3. In searching through various records, I was unable to find an instance where a radio consolidation of a company that has had payola violations, etc. was challenged by the NAB on grounds that the company could not be trusted. I wonder why that is? Does it raise the question as to whether the NAB has an agenda outside the public interest? Perhaps it is their own interest that the NAB is worried about.
4. The National Association of Broadcasters has an agenda and that agenda is quite clear. Their sole existence is to lobby on behalf of and perform in the interest of their MEMBERSHIP, not the consumer. The NAB questions whether Sirius and XM will follow both the letter of regulations as well as the spirit of regulations. Perhaps they should look into the mirror, and at the long list of FCC violations that their membership has.
The National Association of Broadcasters is against the merger. It is that plain and that simple. They fear competition, and will do anything to muzzle it. If that means pretending that they are acting on behalf of consumers, they will play that role. However, such pontifications take on little meaning when the NAB's own membership has a whole closet full of dirty laundry.
What Mr. Rehr should remember is that when he points a finger at someone else, there are three of his own fingers pointing directly back to himself.
Position - Long Sirius, Long XM