Mr. Gonzales, tear down this merger


The proposed merger of DARS companies XM and Sirius found another obscure source of support, from an organization called WIPP. You've heard of it? No? That would be Women Impacting Public Policy, who think the merger would be good for small businesses, women and minorities.

The loyal opposition to the merger also found voice, in the form of a letter to AG Alberto Gonzales, FCC Chair Kevin Martin and FTC Chair Deborah Platt Majoras, signed by a bipartisan group of no less than 72 US Representatives. "On the face of it," they wrote, "we believe that sanctioning the marriage of the only competitors in the satellite radio market would create a monopoly which would be devastating to consumers."

The letter notes the anti-monopoly safeguards put in place by the FCC at the outset of the DARS license grants, and notes the questionable behavior exhibited by the two companies since. "Present circumstances do not warrant the FCC's complete reversal of its conclusions in the satellite radio licensing decision, or the consumer benefits and protections that have resulted from that decision…We call on the Department of Justice, the FCC and the FTC to protect consumers, and protect competition, by denying this merger." Gene Green (D-TX) and James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) led the effort.

SmartMedia observation: As one source noted, the list of signatories goes all the way from Dennis Hastert (R-IL) to Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). Although weighted toward the Democratic side of the aisle, key Republicans, in particular actual radio operator Greg Walden (R-OR), contributed their John Hancocks from the Republican side. In all, 47 Democrats and 25 Republicans signed the letter. Note that the group did not say "consider the proposal carefully" or "it faces a high hurdle." The group flatly said the proposal should be denied. The statement can't be much stronger than that.