The National Association of Broadcasters issued a press release yesterday, quoting NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton:
“XM and Sirius have spent upwards of $20 million trying to bamboozle the Beltway into believing that a monopoly is good for consumers. Yet when you cut through all the distortions displayed by XM and Sirius, you are left with one undisputable fact: Never in history has a monopoly served consumers better than competition.”
The NAB conveniently leaves out any facts to corroborate this bold statement. I’m not interested in challenging it directly, because the basic gist is fine if unrevealing. Competition is good. I believe that. I just wish the NAB believed it.
The existence of press releases and lobbying demonstrate that the NAB knows that it competes with satellite radio. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t spend millions to defeat this merger. It is not acting solely in the best interest of consumers. Incentives matter, and here the incentive is to reduce the strength of all providers of competing technology.
I rarely listen to terrestrial broadcast radio anymore. There is a sameness that is pre-packaged and unimaginative. It’s simply not interesting. I’d rather listen to the artists I enjoy and discover new artists through friends, blogs, and iTunes. Even the limited broadcast offerings I enjoy are available as podcasts, which demonstrates that terrestrial broadcasters agree with the Sirius-XM view of the radio industry’s competition model.
Satellite radio didn’t turn me away from NAB’s clients. Sirius and XM existed when I went looking for an alternative. To be fair, I don’t listen to the music channels on Sirius that often. The repetition of a limited playlist exists there, as well. Maybe it’ll cost Sirius my subscription in the future. Maybe they’ll change. But for now, it has Howard Stern, which is what I want.
The NAB’s press release includes a list of groups and lawmakers opposing the proposed merger, which is its only support for the validity of its position. It takes a little more than that, unfortunately. Instead of putting out pointless press releases calling for competition with a list of politicians, it could actually query those politicians and ask why they abhor the Constitution’s First Amendment, as just one action in the interest of consumers. Or does the NAB not actually care about consumers as much as it cares about remaining partnered with politicians to limit its need to compete?