One big happy satellite radio monopoly

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.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

Here comes another Kompakt Pop Ambient collection to make life just a little more bearable.

Another (extremely rough) year has come and gone, which means that the German electronic music label Kompakt gets to roll out their annual Total and Pop Ambient compilations for us all.

Keep reading... Show less

Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.