In the Valenti Spirit

Yes, everyone knows the late Jack Valenti not only reached across party lines but also brought political opponents together. Still, his gentlemanly spirit of unity may have outdone itself last night at MPAA offices in D.C., where many gathered in his name at a party in honor of his recently published memoir.

Spied across the room: XM satellite radio chief Hugh Panero embracing Recording Industry Assn. of America top lobbyist Mitch Bainwol.

XM and RIAA are locked in a bitter legal battle over an iPod-like device XM sells, which the music industry claims cheats labels and performers out of certain royalties. (Not true, XM has countered.)

Better yet: National Assn. of Broadcasters topper David Rehr jovially said he’d like to meet Panero. NAB is almost apoplectic over the planned merger of XM and rival satcaster Sirius and has been letting everyone know it.

But as Rehr observed, “It’s not personal.”

Jack would have been proud.

—By William Triplett in Washington.

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  1. Walt says:

    I consult for the NAB, so maybe I can say apoplectic isn’t quite the right word. Very concerned, yes.
    The deal raises serious monopoly questions — XM/Sirius would be a monopoly that terrestrial radio couldn’t compete against.
    Let’s also not forget that XM and Sirius promised, at the time of their charters, that they would not merge. And don’t forget as well that DirecTV and EchoStar recently sought to merge but were rejected on similar grounds.
    Not to mention, for XM and Sirius users, who would the new XMSirius compete against to develop new versions of their radios? Everyone is a loser here — with the possible exception of Mel Karmazin.

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