Satellite Radio is Not the Enemy

The National Association of Broadcasters spent a whopping $4.3 million dollars -- more than five times as much as XM and Sirius according to Frank Saxe at Inside Radio -- to lobby against the proposed satellite merger of the two.

XM spent only $580,000 and Sirius $230,000 (and I'll bet Mel Karmazin choked on that).

Saxe points out that even the powerful Motion Picture Association had a budget of only $220,000 for its interests.

And these figures are only for the first six months of this year!

To be fair, some of the NAB's expenditures were on behalf of the fight against copyright royalties and pushing off any return of the Fairness doctrine.

I like what the NAB is doing to help Internet streamers these days. Keep in mind that the NAB does not represent the interests of this disorganized group of entrepreneurs, but the interests of terrestrial radio stations.

And fighting the CRB's unfair and burdensome royalty rates for streamers is definitely in the interest of terrestrial broadcasters who most certainly will always be vulnerable to a dying music industry's last gasp.

NAB needs to stop fighting satellite radio.

Radio people need to understand that satellite radio is not their enemy. They are the enemy for allowing the next generation to get away so easily. And for not redeploying its talented people to take a major stake in the online streaming and mobile future.

Radio execs just can't be rational about satellite radio.

The two satellite operators -- XM and Sirius together have only 15 million paid subscribers.

There are still lots of listeners who don't like to subscribe to that which they can get for free. Radio is competing with a business that has tied its own hands behind its back by eliminating commercials in music programming.

The world has changed since the first radio satellites were launched. The promise of satellite radio -- over 100 channels mostly without commercials -- is a non-starter with the next generation and it appears to have even plateaued with its base -- older listeners.

The Internet is the elephant in the media room.

Once unleashed -- with WiFi or WiMax -- and fair royalty deals, it promises to be the new radio that satellite had hoped to be. Smart satellite operators will become Internet companies, but that's not likely in my view because they seemed obsessed with being the next "terrestrial" radio.

Satellite won't sink radio's ship.

The threat of performance taxes on top of existing ASCAP and BMI fees will.

Time for NAB lobbying efforts to employ waste management.

Spend what could easily be $10 million for the full year on the real enemy -- record labels.
And fight for fair royalty rates for everyone -- terrestrial, satellite and Internet streamers -- because when one medium gets saddled with high rates eventually all will.

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