Enlisting more help to fight a satellite merger


Back when Eliot Spitzer was Attorney General of New York he fought with radio station owners over alleged pay-for-play. But with Spitzer gone, not just as AG, but completely from the political scene, the New York State Broadcasters Association (NYSBA) is seeking help from the new AG, Andrew Cuomo, to fight against a satellite radio merger.

While the issue of whether XM and Sirius will be allowed to merge is before the US Department of Justice and the FCC, the New York Attorney General’s office is believed to have some influence at the national level because of its history of antitrust activism.

NYSBA President Joe Reilly met with antitrust litigators in the AG’s office and told them "…the merged entity with no FCC content regulation, would enjoy a huge competitive advantage over local radio broadcasters" and added that "the FCC intentionally prohibited any satellite merger for the very purpose of protecting over-the-air broadcasters and that’s still true today, 11 years later!"

Reilly also pressed for blocking the merger to ensure that HD Radio has a fair shot at being incorporated as OEM equipment on automobiles. "Local radio broadcasters have invested heavily in HD radio. The merged satellite monopoly has stated they’ll offer seats on their newly integrated Board of Directors – one to GM and one to Honda – thereby creating a potential conflict of interest with respect to dashboard access," Reilly said.

Unfortunately, while Reilly and a crew of legal experts backing him up did get to meet with the state’s antitrust litigators, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo was called away by the unfolding events that led to the resignation of Eliot Spitzer as Governor of New York.