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


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

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

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!!!