XM/Sirius gets a backer


"How far would a person have to drive in order to find a substitute" for XM or Sirius programming, asks Rick Boucher (D-VA). He answers his own question, saying the person doesn’t have to drive anywhere, just hit a different button in the car’s sound system. That’s one way to justify allowing XM and Sirius to merge, he argues. Boucher made his comments in an article published at Businessweek.com. He noted the duo’s ability to eliminate duplicative programming under a merger, and its plan to offer a la carte options is the merger goes though.

TVBR/RBR observation: As NAB’s Dennis Wharton noted some time back, if a la carte is such a great thing, what’s stopping either of the services from offering it right now? The fact that they tout it as a great thing, but neither offer it to get a leg up on the other can be seen as anticompetitive collusive behavior.

But let’s tackle Boucher’s driving analogy. The simple fact is, you can get in your car, tune in XM or Sirius, and drive, and drive, and keep on driving, and continue to listen to whichever you’ve tuned in. So-called terrestrial stations do not have that ability, to follow the driver wherever they go. They are physically bound to their local community, but at the same time, they provide often vital emergency services for that local community. That is just one huge piece of evidence that these are radically different kinds of audio service.

The reason to oppose XM/Sirius is that monopolies are notorious for abusing their monopoly power, and the merger would simply create a monopoly. What other reason do we need?