Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Radio: XM-Sirius - Everybody Wants Some

Today’s the day of the merger vote for XM and Sirius shareholders.

The Sirius side votes this morning; XM, later this afternoon.

It’s pretty much a given that most will vote in favor of it, which would put both companies, worth an estimated $4.7 billion on paper, under Mel Karmazin/Sirius rule.

That doesn’t make it a done deal. The official federal nods, which should come down the D.C. pike in the next 30 days, will be from Justice and the FCC – but don’t expect a bottleneck there.

That rubber stamp is already wet with ink.

If you see Fumbles, buy him a drink and find a designated driver so he doesn’t smash his NAB company car on I-395 tonight. Poor Fumbles. All those letters, all that Johnny Ray-style crying on Capitol Hill – all for naught.

You’ve heard of Karmatic retribution? Call this one Karmazinatic retribution.

Fumbles, call your office. You have a dozen broadcasters waiting on the line. It’s not pretty.

But just when you think there’s nothing else to worry about other than who to downsize at the merged companies, along comes the Bethesda, Maryland based Georgetown Partners, a minority-run private-equity firm, asking the feds to grant them control over the satellite channels aimed at minority listeners.

The spinmeisters at Georgetown oppose the XM-Sirius merger on the grounds that it would limit the number of channels for minority programming. The firm demands that if the deal goes through some of the channels must be turned over to a minority-controlled entity and that entity should be Georgetown Partners.

How convenient.

That’s their way of saying they want hope and opportunity when, in reality, they’re hoping for an opportunity.

The firm claims that if the merged company offers channels a la carte as it all but promised it would, that would put minority niche programming at a disadvantage since subscribers would be most likely to select the mainstream channels.

Say that again?

They are asking to lease 60 of an estimated 300 channels from the combined company, which it claims will be used to create free, advertiser-supported channels in addition to the subscription-based channels. So far, both the DOJ and FCC remain mum on the Georgetown proposal.

This is one of those times where inertia in government is good.

Both XM and Sirius claim Georgetown’s in it for the hand out – and that most minority organizations, including the NAACP, support the merger.

Minority-owned terrestrial radio operators remain opposed to the merger. James Winston, he being the executive director and general counsel of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters came up with the line of the week, “Putting conditions on a monopoly still creates a monopoly."

Georgetown knows how to make a buck or two. In 1999, it combined forces with GTE to acquire $3.2 billion in cell phone licenses from Ameritech. It later became part of Verizon Wireless.

It makes one wonder that if Georgetown got their way who they’d eventually flip the stations to.


Anonymous said...

There is always some group willing to cry foul to get a piece of the action without paying for entry. These people do the most harm to civil rights since we all get labeled for what these people do.

I was not aware of Georgetown Partners and their land grab has been played down in the media. Fear?

Anonymous said...

I am sick and tired of these organizations always wanting something for nothing. If they don't get their way what will they do call in Al Sharpton? I was living in Poughkeepsie when Sharpton made his name with Tawyna Brawley and was exposed as a phony. How he survives is beyond me. We should go back to the old fashioned way of doing business - EARN IT!