In an interesting reply comment filed with the FCC today, some individual terrestrial radio owners have veered onto a new course regarding the proposed merger of Sirius and XM. A group consisting of Beasley Broadcast, Citadel, Entercomm, Greater Media, Lincoln, and Saga are now trying to tie the proposed merger to terrestrial radio ownership rules.
In their filing, they clearly state that they do not want to address whether or not the rules of license transfer can be changed or modified. Instead, these media companies are asking that the long term marketplace issues must also be considered.
There are some compelling statements in this filing that differ substantially from positions taken by the National Association of Broadcasters. These media companies have taken the next step in what appears to be actions that need consideration if the Sirius and XM stance were to be accepted.
"The changes in the entertainment landscape described by XM and Sirius do not have a discreet and unique impact on satellite radio providers. They impact all of the 'audio entertainment services' identified by XM and Sirius as competitors for listeners. Accordingly, if there is any justification for the regulatory change urged by XM and Sirius, then this justification must be evaluated with respect to the entire range of spectrum based service providers at issue, not just in reference to the one multiple ownership restriction that applies to SDARS."
In simple terms, these companies seem to be saying that there is indeed a broad audio entertainment landscape, and that if Sirius and XM are permitted to merge, that other radio stations should be allowed due consideration for media ownership as well. This all boils down to the ongoing media ownership debates that are now taking place.
In another section of the filing, these companies also go so far as to suggest that SDARS receivers be capable of receiving AM, FM, as well as HD radio to help foster competition.
The filing is interesting in that it seems to be a start of terrestrial radio posturing for some benefits of their own in the event the merger is approved, a stance that has not really been visited by such parties in the past. The filing is good reading, and worth looking further into. Whether or not it represents a "crack in the armor" of terrestrial radio's stance to date would be an outstanding debate which readers can participate in on the Sirius Buzz Forums.
Position - Long Sirius, Long XM - No position in other media companies mentioned.