With the news that FCC Chairman Kevin Martin would support the proposed Sirius-XM merger after achieving “voluntary” “concessions”, a merger (without the extorted concessions) I’ve loooooooong supported, I should’ve known some further rent-seeking would interfere. It’s just too obvious for politicians to bypass the blood in the water when the companies are willing to cut themselves. And so it was yesterday:
Senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus yesterday criticized a compromise plan for the proposed merger of the XM and Sirius satellite radio companies, saying the deal does not provide enough opportunities for minority-owned programming.
The companies already agreed to lease 4% of their channels. Central planning now should surprise no one since the FCC created this mess by stipulating from the beginning that exactly two companies would be involved in the satellite radio business. Hubris is a bizarre flaw inherent in central planners. Still, this new
extortion extension of the sleaze is amazing. I can think of no recent examples quite as bold and shameless.
[North Carolina Democrat Rep. G.K.] Butterfield said he got the idea for the 20 percent set-aside for minority-owned companies from Georgetown Partners, a minority-run private-equity firm based in Bethesda, and its managing director, Chester Davenport.
The firm, which has invested in wireless and media companies, objected last year to the merger, arguing that a monopoly could limit opportunities for minority programming.
Georgetown Partners isn’t claiming that it expects to receive that 20 percent. (Nor does it suggest terms that will inevitably be dictated rather than negotiated.) And I’m sure its political donations to certain Democratic congressmen is entirely coincidental.
Delving further into the role of mafioso as public servant, this:
“It’s shocking to the conscience in this day and age, where “the minority populations” comprise a significant part of the satellite radio audience, that Mr. Martin would settle for what I deem to be crumbs that have fallen off the table,” [Maryland Democrat Rep. Elijah] Cummings said. “We can do much better. I am hoping that this can be revisited.”
If “the minority populations” are listening, it’s incomprehensible to think that Sirius and XM are not already serving this market in a manner that the market deems acceptable enough to pay $13-plus-taxes each month. It’s also incomprehensible to imagine that “the minority population” does not already own a portion of the satellite radio market. I am neither a minority nor a woman, but I imagine that many individuals who qualify for one or both of those distinctions own stock in Sirius and/or XM, just as I do. Amazing as it is, no one is restricted from being financially involved. With Sirius’ stock price, each 100-share block is under $300. The Free Money Congress is mailing could buy nearly 250 shares.
As I suggested above, it’s also possible for anyone, minority or not, to approach Sirius and/or XM about creating programming aimed at segments of the market. I’m speculating, but I doubt executives at either company would refuse to consider such new ideas. Not that they’re actually new.
This is just another example of the inevitable embrace of ego, greed, and power become the only reason for regulation. Protecting consumers is the ruse. Whether regulatory actions benefit consumers is irrelevant to the regulators. Cummings demonstrates this with his contradiction that “the minority populations” demand minority-owned channels, even though they’re already listening to satellite radio and have yet to advocate for divesting of some assets to (other) minority-owned companies at shareholder meetings.