Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Consumer group ready to oppose satellite merger

With the announcement of a long-anticipated merger agreement between XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio, one consumer group is ready to fight for the rights of subscribers in the merger approval process. In a statement released earlier, the Consumer Coalition for Competition in Satellite Radio (C3SR) said the group “is ready to oppose the merger and fight for consumer choice and public interest.”
Due to legitimate antitrust concerns, the merger proposal will face scrutiny from government regulators at the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over the coming months. An approval of the merger would give way to a single satellite radio operator, and according to Chris Reale, a founder of C3SR, “a monopoly satellite radio provider would be able to raise prices and cut programming to a growing number of consumers that have come to rely on satellite radio for news and entertainment.”
When the FCC originally granted the SDARS licenses to XM and Sirius, the Commission concluded that the public interest was served and that it “includes the protection of competition not competitors.”
“If this merger is permitted to go forward, there will be no protection of competition and there will be no competitors,” Reale said.
C3SR seeks additional support from Sirius and XM subscribers and from other consumer groups and key industry allies who oppose this merger. “While C3SR will never compromise its independence as a voice for Sirius and XM subscribers, we are looking to join forces with other groups that are willing to support our cause,” said Reale. “Satellite radio subscribers’ investment in equipment and specific programming packages must be protected, and we hope that alliances with established interest groups will be possible.”
C3SR was launched earlier this year by a group of law students - all satellite radio subscribers - to counter the potentially dim prospects facing subscribers of satellite radio under a monopoly provider. “Our main goal right now is to stop this merger,” Reale said. “If a merger were to be approved, subscribers would likely end up paying more for less programming, and would end up subsidizing unwanted services.”
C3SR website
(Source: R Netherlands Media Network Weblog)