How do you spell “Monopoly”?

Here are two questions for NAB head David Rehr to ponder:

1. How many of the folks who are against the proposed Sirius/XM merger actually subscribe to or plan to subscribe to Sirius or XM? You don’t count as a “consumer” unless you count as a potential consumer. Otherwise, XM and Sirius are expected to serve the interests of parties who are not interested in being served.

2. If, let’s say, Sirius vanished tomorrow, would all those former Sirius subscribers sign the dotted line for XM? Would most? Or would only some? Or, alternatively, would the Siriusly deprived spend that would-be Sirius time with traditional radio or with their iPod or listening to CD’s or doing something altogether different – but not subscribing to the satellite firm that remains standing?

What do you think?

I think this debate is a joke.

Anyone who knows anything about technology and trends (and isn’t being paid to say otherwise) knows that Sirius and XM are part of a much larger “audio entertainment and information” picture, they are not the sum total of the satellite radio pie because there is no satellite radio pie – just as there is no terrestrial radio pie (in fact, if there were, terrestrial wouldn’t view satellite as competition, now would we?)

I would be willing to bet that only a small fraction of listeners displaced by one theoretically vanished satellite radio service would sign up with the other. The majority would do what the rest of us do: Listen to terrestrial radio, tune in to their iPods, put a CD on the player…

…or just sit in silence and marvel at how it all came down to this.

Now what do you call a two company industry where if one company vanishes most of its consumers don’t sign up for the surviving company but instead get their needs satisfied in other ways?

You don’t call it a monopoly.

…in case the truth matters.

Radio can and will easily compete against satellite. This merger is no significant threat. The sooner we get our own house in order and move on with the challenges that matter, the better off our industry will be.

This merger thing is a massive distraction that will have little or no influence on radio’s future no matter which way the winds blow.

* = required field
  • Wow. You have finally nailed it. I’m a Sirius subscriber (and former XM subscriber), and if Sirius went away today, I would not subscribe to XM. Like you say, I’ve got too many other things vying for my listening/watching time. Once again, you are spot-on.

  • Richard

    You’re spot on in this Sirius/XM thing. any merger will not create a 900-pound gorilla, but instead a 37-pound chimp.
    I’ve never thought satellite radio had a bright future, not as long as it requires a proprietary receiver. There are just too many “free” choices.

  • Thanks for your comments, guys. Why do the folks leading the radio industry think we’re all dumb and blind to the obvious?

  • George

    I think the NAB challenge is simply a paper tiger, so that when they lose, they can say, “If satellite isn’t a monopoly, then more consolidation in terrestrial radio also isn’t a monopoly.”

  • Joe Nick

    “Why do the folks leading the radio industry think we’re all dumb and blind to the obvious?”
    Well, mainly because they’ve already gotten away with hijacking those airwaves that the FCC once believed “belonged to the people.” Since they’ve transformed a public trust into a cash cow for their own benefit, why not try to frag competing technologies?
    It’s a sad, sad situation. You’re right. This debate is beside the point. I subscribe to both services in different cars and am not inclined to add an XM sub if Sirius goes away.
    I’m still waiting for a radio with both services like the FCC mandated when they licensed the duopoly.

  • Richard

    The cynic in me says the powers-that-be are concerned mostly with convincing the members that they are doing something. Setting up a straw man and knocking it down fits that bill.
    The historian in me wonders why the National Association of Broadcasters or the Radio Advertising Bureau would be any better at dealing with media of the 21st century than the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers were at dealing with transportation issues of the 20th century.
    Seems like it might be the time for a new organization to pursue to goals of the new media.
    The DJ in me reaches for another beer.

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