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« March 29, 2008 | Main | March 31, 2008 »

March 30, 2008

What to Write About: The Upcoming Cubs' Home Opener, or the Sirius-XM Merger?

By: The Dude on the Right
I was debating on whether to blog about going to the Cubs’ Home Opener tomorrow, or satellite radio. Sure, the two topics are at the opposite ends of the spectrum, and since I’m not really looking forward to the ballgame because of the weather I suppose, later this week, I’ll write about another Cubs’ Home Opener with crappy weather. That leaves this blog to wondering if I’m nuts questioning why there has been such opposition to the Sirius-XM merger, even after the Justice Department gave the initial go-ahead. This comes about after reading a story about how 11 state attorneys general want the FCC to put restrictions upon letting the two companies merge.

The story I read references the restrictions of making the merged Sirius sell interoperable radios, an a la carte basis of paying for channels, and the most bizarre, divesting some radio spectrum to allow another competitor into the business, and my wondering comes from my own experience the last time I drove home to the middle of Ohio from my dude-pad near Chicago and because even though I’m a Sirius subscriber, the satellite folks were in competition during the entire day, as they always are.

My trip home began on a Thursday, at about 1PM, which for me means that I was done listening to the West Coast feed of The Howard Stern Show. I listen to the West Coast feed because in the mornings, prior to the 8AM start time, I jump between Steve Dahl and Jonathan Brandmeier, depending on what they are talking about, and even after 8, if Howard isn’t on something that interests me, I’m now bouncing between the three of them. Mornings aside, on my drive, from 1PM to 2PM, I found myself listening to the Stern Wrap-Up Show, leaving me to 2PM where now that Dahl is in the mornings, I’m listening to Roe Conn on the AM dial of my car because I enjoy him more than anything "talk" on Sirius in the afternoon. The problem is that, during the day, the WLS signal only gets me to about the Ohio-Indiana border while driving, leaving me this time with the competition decision of music on some of the Sirius channels or my own music on my iPhone, but you know what, this time I was in the mood for my own music so I put my iPhone into its car dock and listened to my music for the rest of the trip. In the span of the thirteen hours, starting when I woke up, my choices went from two radio personalities I enjoy on my FM dial, to listening to my satellite radio, to listening to music on my iPhone, and then arriving in my homestead driveway and saying "Hello, Mom!"

I guess, at some issue, restricting the merger is supposed to protect consumers and preserve competition, as the article states, but as far as competition, maybe it’s just because I’m lucky that I live in a city with such a great AM/FM radio spectrum (most of which you can actually get streaming on the internet), and I own an iPod-style product, so for me the competition is already there. And as far as protecting the consumer, satellite radio is not a necessity, for anyone, so if there is an issue of protecting consumers I would think Sirius, as an entity designed to hopefully make money some day, knows the price points that people will be willing to pay for their service. Trust me, as much as I like Howard Stern, if suddenly, after the merger, they say getting Howard will cost me forty bucks a month it will be "Goodbye Sirius, hello podcasts!"

But what I find most bizarre is the request of giving up some radio spectrum so someone else can become a competitor in the business. My question is "Why?" After seeing how Sirius and XM have had a hell of a time becoming profitable in competition, who in their right mind would think "Hey, there’s some satellite radio spectrum available! I can program radio better than the already established Sirius. Do you see how popular that Hannah Montana chick is? It will be all Hannah Montana, all of the time, from space! Let’s build a satellite!" Instead, if you really want to protect the consumers, I’m thinking you would leave Sirius with the spectrum satellite radio was envisioned with so they could expand services for the consumer, like the video-in-car system they are rolling out, and incorporating the real-time traffic on your navigation system XM has. And you know what, if they are a smart company, they will develop ways to use the extra spectrum, at a reasonable price, so that consumers win, and the company wins.

I was happy to finally read the Justice Department approved the merger, but surprised to read nearly a dozen attorneys generals now want restrictions. Maybe they don’t have the competition I have in my radio listening because their normal radio sucks, they don’t have an iPod with their own music (Dudes, and maybe dudettes, my 81 year old mom has an iPod), or maybe they don’t realize people are paying for programming, not necessity.

I will say I like the idea of a la carte pricing, but as far as competition, it’s already there. And far as protecting the consumer I would like to think Sirius’ mission statement isn’t "Let’s screw over the customer and drive this company into the ground." I’m thinking, right now, their mission statement should be "We will do everything we can to get Howard Stern, and hell, if this merger gets approved, even Oprah and Opie & Anthony, signed on for five more years after their current contracts are up. Hopefully they won’t want too much of a raise."

People generally need electricity - they "pay" for satellite radio, and will only pay when they find it beneficial and doesn’t cost too much. Attorneys general, maybe you should be worrying about gas prices, about your housing markets (especially you, Mr. Ohio), not something I will, or will not, pay for.

Sorry this blog is so long - I get long-winded sometimes, especially when I don't want the government messing up something I enjoy, like choosing between my local radio personalities, my satellite radio, and my own music preferences.  And damn it, there's a part of me that would like the option to listen to the Oprah channel.

That's it for this one!  I'm The Dude on the Right!!  L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 6:55 PM | Comments (1)

What's New? A Movie Review of "21."

The Dude on the Right almost took his life savings out of the bank and headed to Las Vegas after seeing "21" because he had delusions that he could count cards. Luckily he came to his senses and decided to write a review about the movie rather than being stranded in Las Vegas, having to call his mom to wire him some money so he could buy a plane ticket home, then, of course, foolishly thinking that his luck was going to change.

Posted by Rightdude at 1:48 PM | Comments (0)


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