As far as competition goes, the FCC should also be aware that there’s already plenty of that in the entertainment industry, and much of it has developed since the FCC’s ruling in 1995. Back then people could listen only to the radio or carry a portable CD player. But today, there are iPods, MP3 players and even phones that store and play music. Consumers have plenty of options, and if the price of satellite radio soars, we’ll simply switch to other devices to listen to music.
However, as Alanis Morissette might say, there is a bit of irony here. While the government says it plans to examine this merger to see whether it will promote competition, at least one group aims to use the government to rein in its competition.
Here’s what David Rehr, the president of the National Association of Broadcasters, had to say: “Policymakers will have to weigh whether an industry that makes Howard Stern its poster child should be rewarded with a monopoly platform for offensive programming. We’re hopeful that this anti-consumer proposal will be rejected.”
It’s nice to know that the man who’s paid to represent traditional radio broadcasters claims to be concerned about my welfare as a consumer of his competition. But what Rehr’s comments really mean is that a coalition of broadcasters wants to use the power of the government to hamstring its own competition. Nice work, if you can get it.
Even if the government allows the Sirius-XM merger, there will still be plenty of competition in radio. There are plenty of free, over-the-air stations available to anyone. And now there’s HD radio, which has a better signal and is also free once you’ve invested in the actual receiver.
Listeners don’t need the government or so-called “consumer advocates” to protect us. We need them to get out of our way and allow a business to operate. It’s time for consumers to tell Washington to “just go away.”