The chairman of the U.S. Senate’s antitrust subcommittee on Wednesday urged regulators to block Sirius Satellite Radio Inc.’s proposed acquisition of XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc…..Terrestrial radio is too limited to compete with satellite radio, while personal audio players can not match the programming of satellite service, he wrote.
If you read between the lines of this statement, you can see that Senator Kohl is defining “satellite radio” as “a wide variety of passively delivered programming.” That’s why terrestrial radio is “too limited to compete” (not enough diverse channels!) and personal audio players “can not match the programming” (it’s hard work to watch your grandchildren download songs).
This is, in other words, a view of the audio entertainment competitive field marked by the kind of foresight which would, for example, put the locomotive in the “pulled along tracks” business rather than the transportation business.
Truly, this is an embarrassing display of technological naivete, where clueless lawmakers draw lines in their minds no matter where consumers draw lines in their behaviors.
Most users of personal audio players would shake their heads at anyone who dared to suggest that the power to customize and control your listening experience “can not match the programming” of satellite radio. That’s why there are 100 million iPods in circulation now. That’s a fact.
Most radio listeners would not agree that terrestrial radio is “too limited,” or at least so limited that an alternative is worth subscribing to. After all, there are 800 million universally listened-to terrestrial radios in the U.S. and roughly 15 to 20 million satellite radio subscribers. Those are the facts.
Senator Kohl’s analysis is striking in its ignorance and sweeping in its delusions.
I have said it before and I’ll say it again: Satellite radio has little to nothing to do with the future of terrestrial radio. It is not a threat. As an industry we must forsake this obsession for more pressing ones.
They’re not hard to find.