XM, Sirius merger starts war of words

NAB says proposal constitutes a monopoly

It’s getting nasty out there.

As feds review the proposed merger of XM and Sirius — a move the National Assn. of Broadcasters adamantly opposes — the war of words between satcasters and broadcasters has escalated to levels just short of personal attacks on mothers and pets.

XM and Sirius have denounced NAB’s “hypocritical” argument that the merger should be rejected because satellite radio is a market unto itself and would therefore constitute a monopoly. Just last week, the satcasters threw some of the previous public comments of the NAB and its members, generally used to justify more media consolidation, in the org’s face:

“As noted by various commenters, radio stations must compete for listeners’ attention with many different media, including television, portable digital audio players, compact discs, videogames, movies and the Internet. Terrestrial radio stations also face direct competition from satellite radio providers XM and Sirius.” (NAB papers filed with the FCC)

“Our broadcasting businesses face increasing competition from new broadcast technologies, such as broadband wireless and satellite television and radio.” (mega-broadcaster Clear Channel in SEC papers)

“The radio broadcasting industry also competes with new media technologies that are being developed or introduced, such as satellite-delivered digital audio radio service.” (Entercom in SEC papers)

A blast email to media from a satcaster rep said these quotes showed broadcasters’ “blatant hypocrisy and repeated doubletalk.”

NAB returned the jab via exec VP Dennis Wharton, who responded:

“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.”

Not quite “Yo’ mama!” but that may be next.

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