Fowler goes to bat for XM/Sirius


Former FCC Chairman Mark Fowler took to the pages of the New York Sun to suggest that the FCC and DOJ should step back and let satellite audio services XM and Sirius combine if they want to. "If the two satellite radio companies, each only several years old, need to combine to be more effective competitors in an audio entertainment marketplace teeming with technological change and innovation, the government should not stand in the way." Fowler cited the vast changes in media since his tenure at the FCC during the Reagan years. After crediting XM/Sirius in fueling radio’s drive to HD technology, he wrote, "In the mean time, satellite and terrestrial radio also have been besieged by a host of additional competitors: iPods and other MP3 players, Internet radio services, and now mobile phones. All offer exciting new means of providing audio entertainment to consumers." He concluded, "In the end, satellite radio may or may not survive, but let that be decided by the people through their electronic choices in the marketplace."

RBR/TVBR observation: Fowler fails to answer his own "if," but both XM and Sirius have answered it repeatedly. Both say they are solvent and their business model is sound, and that they are and will be able to stand on their own if the merger does not go through. Allowing them to merge would be permitting a conditional and government-sanctioned monopoly of convenience. Most rational observers don’t see this two-into-one scenario as a way to increase competition, including those who drew up the dual charters in the first place to guarantee that competition would exist. Do iPods impact XM and Sirius? Sure. They impact AM and FM radio as well. That doesn’t mean AM and FM get to monopolize, and it certainly doesn’t it confer that right on XM/Sirius either.