XM/Sirius: Rush out on the Towns


Bobby Rush (D-IL) has hopes that the merger between satcasters XM and Sirius could be good for programming diversity, with terrestrial radio being hopelessly consolidated. And he signed onto a letter the FCC Chairman Kevin Martin from Edolphus Towns (D-NY) expressing support. But he’s withdrawing his signature to hold out for more support for diversity from the merged entity.

The deal-breaker for Rush is the fact that “the combined company will agree to provide under long-term leases eight channels on the combined system (four on each system) to minority owners.” With total capacity of 300 channels, Rush doesn’t think that is nearly enough, given that minorities make up 35% of the population. In view of that fact, he wrote, “I see no reason why a combined XM-Sirius satellite radio company should not dedicate a number of channels for minority ownership that is more reflective of the general population.” He said the voluntary plan for eight channels – less than 3% of capacity, “does not satisfy my advocacy for a more aggressive policy that emulates the real diversity of the American public.”

RBR/TVBR observation: Here’s the relevant math. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Rush thinks 100 or so channels would be a fair set-aside. If that standard is made a condition of approval, do you think it would be a deal-breaker?