No Thought Experiments for Mel
Speaking before an antitrust task force of the House Judiciary Committee, Mr. Karmazin said he was shocked by the very idea that anyone would see a monopoly as the logical result of merging the only two satellite radio broadcasters. “There is no monopoly or duopoly,” he told the hearing. “That’s the most bizarre thing I have ever heard.” —The New York Times You can’t blame him for trying.
“Him” is Mel Karmazin, the uber-salesman currently attempting to sell the deal of a lifetime to the relevant authorities–the merger of the only two satellite radio companies in America. And Mel is pulling out all the stops—going so far as to unload the following whopper on a rightly suspicious Congress:
Mr. Karmazin’s essential message is that satellite radio is competing with all forms of audio entertainment and information — from commercial radio to iPod jacks in cars to Internet radio…. Anybody ever try sticking a desktop PC in the car and tuning into Internet radio while you’re whaling down a crowded freeway?
And I suspect at the end of the day—this is my opinion only, and for what it’s worth—the XM/Sirius deal will not go through for precisely the same reason the Dish/Echostar deal did not go through.
Still, to test Mel’s own theory, it might be helpful to perform what is called a “Thought Experiment.”
The thought is this: would the Feds allow a single terrestrial radio company—Clear Channel, say—to buy every radio station in America, thereby owning 100% of the terrestrial radio business?
If the answer is “yes, because of all those iPods and Internet radio stations out there,” then one could suppose the Feds might allow a single satellite company to own 100% of the satellite radio business.
But I don’t think Mel is going to encourage anybody at the FCC to be doing that kind of thought experiment any time soon.
Jeff Matthews I Am Not Making This Up
© 2007 Jeff Matthews
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