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NAB’s next move after XM/Sirius merger

So let’s assume that early reports are not premature and the FCC approves the XM/Sirius merger, as they are expected to do and as I have long predicted.

Then what happens?

An appeal by the NAB to the D.C. Court of Appeals is probable, intended to slow down the crossed t’s and dotted i’s.

At this point, it appears that the strategy of the NAB is to force XM/Sirius into a holding pattern so that all their energies are tied up in waiting and none of those energies are directed towards adapting to a fast-changing technological environment. In other words, the uncertainty of their future has halted XM/Sirius from surfing the waves of the trends they will need to master to stay relevant for that future.

This is a big deal.

After all, there was no iPhone when this merger was announced. Now there’s an iPhone that can serve as a radio every bit as good as XM or Sirius in many respects. And so much more, too.

Name – if you can – any single big headline by either XM or Sirius during the past two years which is about benefits to the consumer specifically? What are the consequential new content announcements? The new technology announcements? Now compare those headlines (if you found any) with the number of merger headlines, which have no bearing on stuff listeners care about at all.

That’s the story of an industry halted.

NAB knows that if XM and Sirius can’t move ahead until this merger obstacle is first removed, then delaying the removal of this obstacle is job #1. You can certainly kill a company’s future by slowing down it’s race to that future.

At the same time, of course, XM/Sirius is a willing accomplice. Everything is on hold because they place it on hold, fearing that dramatic but necessary moves will “shock” the system and push an FCC commissioner off the fence in the wrong direction.

The light now appears at the end of the tunnel, but I suspect the NAB will work to lengthen that tunnel.

Meanwhile, the arguments of XM/Sirius to support their merger have, if anything, resonated even more strongly in recent months, as anyone who has tuned in AOL Radio or Pandora on their iPhone knows well.

Later this week I’ll post what I think the next moves of a merged XM/Sirius will be.

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