For those that are unaware, and those that simply want to know more, we thought it would be prudent to provide information on the National Association of Broadcasters Political Action Committee (PAC).

The NAB defines a PAC as a Political Action Committee used by trade associations, small and large businesses and corporations since 1944. PACs are composed of like-minded people for the purpose of electing candidates who support their interests.

PAC’s raise funds and contribute to political candidates that they feel support their stance, or will likely support their stance. The NAB currently has some specified goals which investors in this sector, and merger watchers may find interesting:

Here are just a few of the many important items on our agenda this year:
• Preventing expansion of LPFM stations into commercial radio stations' third adjacent channel of interference protection
• Fighting increased content regulations and excessive fines for indecent content
• Stopping 500 million dollars worth of proposed analog spectrum "user fees"
• Opposing a 1% gross revenue tax on all radio and TV stations that would subsidize candidates' political ads
• Protecting local markets from satellite industry intrusion

Interestingly, high on the NAB’s list is something called LPFM (Low Powered FM). Low Powered FM can be loosely defined as very localized content. Specifically, radio stations have a third adjacent channel that right now is not being utilized. The proposal is that this spectrum, which is not currently being used, could be utilized for a small radio station to broadcast on. The reach of the station is limited, but minority groups and others are strong supporters of LPFM because it gives small groups a chance to be able to broadcast programming. The NAB membership, is fighting LPFM stating that it would cause interference to the already established station. Testing has been conducted that proves otherwise, and many groups feel that the NAB’s members are simply trying to use the excuse of interference to protect their turf, and their advertising dollars.

Perhaps this is one reason that minority groups and groups representing rural communities are very supportive of the proposed Sirius and XM merger. The NAB membership has not been responsive to these communities and groups for a very long time, and now they are fighting LPFM. Interestingly, the NAB wants consumers to think of them as the “Champions of Localism”.

The NAB has also made it a point to go after the uncensored content on satellite radio. They have made statements relating to Howard stern, and have referenced “decent” content on many occasions. Their PAC however, is doing whatever it can to fight against content regulations and excessive fines for indecent content. Personally, I agree with the NAB stance relating to content regulations and fines, but I am offended at the NAB’s double-speak when they champion a cause on one hand, and then decry it on the other.

Of course, they are also spending PAC dollars to “Protect local markets from satellite industry intrusion”. Does this make any sense? I am a satellite radio subscriber, and was not aware of any danger regarding my listenership. What this really means is that the NAB is trying to protect their business interests. Again, I have no problem with that. It is something any organization would do. Where I take exception is in the double-speak where the NAB wants people to believe that they are acting in the best interest of the consumer when in actuality, they are trying to protect their turf.

All of this is neither here nor there. Many people understand the innuendo that is happening, but there are also many who are uninformed about the entire subject. What we know is that when an organization can stand up and state their TRUE objective with a salient argument, that that is the strongest position to be in. Perhaps the reason the NAB does not do this is because their TRUE argument is not that strong, and therefore they are holding “consumer protection” up as a poster child. What we as consumers need to remember is that the NAB exists for the interests of their membership. They are not a consumer organization.

In fairness, Sirius and XM are corporations that are proposing a merger for their respective best interests. However, these companies are proposing some very consumer friendly objectives and pricing structures. Consumers would be best served to look at the entire subject from all sides and arrive at their own conclusion. Ask yourself - What is the NAB going to do better for me if the merger is denied? What if the merger is passed? What will a merged Sirius and XM do if a merger is denied? If it is passed? Weigh out the issues as a concumer and come to your own conclusion.
Position - Long Sirius, Long XM