Radio Crybabies

Who's sorry now?

The radio industry liked it when Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 enabling widespread consolidation to take place. The NAB slipped the radio part of that legislation in through the back door. Wall Street embraced radio as never before. These guys loved it.

Now, the shoe is on the other foot. The two -- only two -- satellite operators must be so sure they are going to get their merger approved that they have gone and announced it. And now those same consolidators who were looking for every reason to convince lawmakers, regulators, advertisers and the public that loosening up the restrictions would be good for everyone -- well, they're crying in their beer. In fact, they're panicking.

You see, there is specific law that states XM and Sirius may never operate on a joint license, but FCC Chairman Martin says -- well, the law -- it can be changed. And the terrestrial radio interests defended by their version of the NRA -- the NAB -- is up in arms (I can't believe I said that). Because even though two satellite companies becoming one could look like, feel like and smell like a monopoly, it has an excellent chance -- not a slam dunk -- but, an excellent chance of being approved.

Those fat cat radio consolidators don't like it now when free markets work for their competitor. Actually, competitor is a bad word. Obsession is more like it. In today's radio trades (including my favorite, Inside Radio) the satellite merger talk is all they can cover. Never mind that satellite radio has never hurt terrestrial radio for one second as much as terrestrial radio has hurt itself.

We're not rationale anymore (if we ever were).

Turnabout is fair play. The satellite interests are now going to make the case that iPod, Internet and mobile entertainment is their competition so that merging the two satellite operators will really not be a monopoly. No reason for the DOJ to be concerned. Well, what's wrong with that argument? It's the same one Clear Channel made when it petitioned the FCC to allow further relaxation of radio ownership rules that would pave the way for terrestrial radio to become an even bigger monopoly than it presently is.

The only problem is: who is going to invest in a monopoly of radio stations to which the next generation is not listening. I can appreciate the egocentric aspects of our music related media, but with all due respect for all media moguls -- they are say the same things!

Radio should be allowed to own more stations.

Satellite should be allowed to have one company that owns all the stations.

See what I mean?

The Internet, iPods and mobile devices are radio's chief competitors so, please regulators, let us expand our business so we can compete!

The Internet, iPods and mobile devices are satellite's chief competitors so, please regulators, let us expand -- blah, blah, blah.

As the old saying goes what's good for the goose is good for the gander. The only problem is this goose is cooked without a viable way to attract and hold the next generation -- the people in college, young adults, military people returning home (safe and soon, hopefully).

So, let everyone have their way.

More stations for radio.

One satellite operator that owns everything.

In the end it won't matter.

I'm thinking one of my USC students will pick up the gauntlet in the next five to seven years and do what the big media companies only give lip service to -- program where the next generation lives -- on the Internet, iPod and mobile phone.

To quote a famous American, "bring it on".