No ‘Weaseling’: Consumer Groups Affirm Opposition to Satellite Merger - Radio World

No ‘Weaseling’: Consumer Groups Affirm Opposition to Satellite Merger

Since the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union and Free Press filed their initial petition with the FCC to deny the satellite radio merger, they say there have been “hundreds, if not thousands” of pages of testimony filed by proponents about what they call the “merger to monopoly.”
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Since the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union and Free Press filed their initial petition with the FCC to deny the satellite radio merger, they say there have been “hundreds, if not thousands” of pages of testimony filed by proponents about what they call the “merger to monopoly.”

None of the testimony, say the three groups, changes their original conclusions.

In supplemental comments this week, the groups say a merger will come at the expense of the public.

“The offer of a regulatory fix, an ill-defined and deceptive a la carte pricing program of unspecified duration and value does not and cannot compensate consumers for the loss of competition,” state the groups, who also say neither artists nor retailers will be protected “from the exercise of market power” if the merger is allowed to go through.

Questions remain, they state: “Just as they weaseled out of their obligation to provide interoperable radio, it will be all too easy for them to weasel out of their commitment to provide good programming in the new bundles by claiming they could not get out of their exclusives,” the groups state.

Satellite and terrestrial radio are not substitutes for each other, the groups said, citing a 2007 Arbitron study that finds, “Contrary to commonly held beliefs, people who listen to digital radio platforms do not spend less time listening to AM/FM radio,” knocking down the assumption that those who listen on digital platforms, including iPod, online and satellite radio, do not lower their listening to AM/FM radio.

The finding is inconsistent with the argument that digital platforms are complements to satellite, according to the consumer groups.

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