A decision, one way or the other, on the proposed XM-Sirus merger should be reached by the end of the month. So says Sen. Arlen Spector, the ranking [Republican] member on the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Pat Leahy is the chairman of the committee, it should be noted.) He made an appearance on the Howard Stern Show earlier today and tried to explain why no decision has been made just yet, well over a year since the merger was first announced.
There’s two primary reasons why the merger is still in limbo. One, the relevant parties are still considering the consequences of letting the only two satellite radio companies merge. Meaning, of course, that the anti-merger lobby has had at least some success in slowing down the approval process. (Not that regular radio has done anything, in my estimation, in the interim to make its product any more attractive.) Two, there just doesn’t seem to be any sense of urgency to decide. Lives aren’t at stake—livelihoods, perhaps—and maybe constituents back home want to see more work being done to “fix” the economy than using man-hours on an entertainment industry merger. I completely invented that last point, but it seems plausible.
Presumably, Sen. Specter was only speaking for the Judiciary Committee. That still leaves the FCC and Justice itself to chime in.
Personally, I think this whole escapade has exposed how technologically ignorant some of our elected representatives appear to be. “What’s this here satellite radio thing? Is it like regular radio?” Well, sorta, but there’s more to it than that. Then you’ve got the likes of the NAB throwing its cash around, trying to convince the relevant parties that a single satellite radio company will kill competition, when in reality regular radio is up against iPods and other portable players, cellphones that play music and people listening to streaming music services while at work. Who’s gonna sit in their car or at their desk and listen to some awful, corporate approved, woefully generic playlist, at the mercy of commercials, when you can hear your own awful playlist on your nano or in your iTunes library?
Just decide already.