The FCC agenda notable for what’s not there


The proposed agenda for the August Open Meeting at the FCC, scheduled at the get-out-of-town-friendly date of 8/1/08, will include a look at how Comcast provides its Internet service. It will feature cut-and-dried consideration of the latest regulatory fees. And it makes time to discuss a wireless M&A. That leaves a gaping hole under the heading of M&A proposals in the two-member SDARS community.

This constitutes a sneak preview of the August agenda, part of Chairman Kevin Martin’s campaign to demonstrate that the agency is being run with maximum transparency. If he is able to get a third vote to approve the merger of XM and Sirius, we suppose the issue could be added to the agenda. Or it could be considered at any time.

Meanwhile, a citizen of Tennessee wrote in to the Tennessean citing all the normal reasons two-of-a-kind companies have traditionally been prevented from becoming a one-of-a-kind in the USA. “Does anyone doubt that after the three-year price freeze, the monopoly will do as it pleases?” asked Paul Felton of Nashville. “Does anyone believe they will have more incentive to improve its niche programming with no competition? They will become fat and lazy, and more middle-of-the-road than they already are.”

RBR/TVBR observation: See, Chairman Martin? This merger should be a no go. It’s that simple.

Just to underscore the lack of comprehension of the general facts of the case among the lay public, we note a response to Felton’s letter on the Tennessean’s website. MyTwoCentsWorth wrote, “If they raise prices too much they will drive off existing customers and create an environment making it feasible for a competitor to enter the market.”

Yep. All you need is a big swathe of federally-licensed spectrum, some satellites, a rocket and a team of rocket scientists to get your competing SDARS service up and running. Minor hurdles indeed. Hey, maybe we’ll start one up ourselves!