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One big happy satellite radio monopoly

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Tuesday, Mar 25, 2008
Who needs the public interest?

Satellite radio services XM and Sirius just got a nice present from the weak-kneed Dept. of Justice in the form of a stamp of approval for their merger.  As the NY Times reports, it’s great news for the two companies and their stock holders but will not be great for consumers who will now have to deal with one mega-company for all their satellite radio needs.  As some saner voices point out near the end of the article, the DOJ are pathetically shrugging off their duty as public watchdog- also see this Broadcast and Cable article about doubts raised about the merger.


All that’s standing in its way is the dreaded FCC, which isn’t exactly known as a bastion of public service.  Indeed, Congress is now demanding that head-schmuck Kevin Martin turn over piles of internal documents about his controversial decisions over the last few years over big issues like ‘a la carte’ cable offerings but this will also likely shine some much needed light on his unsavory decisions about media consolidation also.  His masters in the media conglomerate world must be crapping their pants right now and it’s about time.  But in the meantime, look for him to squeeze through a thumbs-up for the satellite deal.  He now says that he hasn’t made up his mind but he lied about that before, and to Congress no less (which I could have sworn was a crime…).


The Satellite companies are arguing that they should be able to create a monopoly because there’s so much competition from other music services.  This is the same lame argument that media conglomerates are using to consolidate their power and get the green light to buy up more and more radio and TV stations and newspapers. 


Not that I buy their argument but they do have reason to be worried- as the Washington Post reports, companies like LastFM and Pandora offer DIY music services for people to customize to their tastes and these companies are getting more and more traction, with lots of subscribers and lots of music offered. 


But does that justify creating monopolies to compete with them?  And besides, if these greedy companies were running their business better and offering more of what the public wanted, they wouldn’t have to beg the govt to get permission to grab up competitors.  Also, if they screwed up their own companies, what’s to say that they’ll do any better to leverage more companies for their bottom line?  Most likely, they’ll screw up the other companies they swallow up too.


And again, how is all of this in the public interest?  It ain’t and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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