August 24, 2009

From satellite to Internet?

Last year at about this time, we opined that the Federal Communications Commission decision to give the green light for an XM and Sirius satellite radio merger was a “Sirius” mistake.

We’ve seen nothing to change that opinion – and we’ve observed anything but the “lower prices and more choice” that Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin claimed the merger would bring. He called it a “no-brainer."

“Hair-brained” is more like it.

As I attempted yesterday to access XM on-line, which had been available in the past as a bonus to XM subscribers, I was told that it is, indeed, still available, but as a $2.99 per month add-on to the satellite fee.

Even more disappointing than the growing fees is the collective amnesia that has swept XM and Sirius officials regarding “a la carte services,” where customers would pay only for those channels they want. It’s a service that’s long overdue for both satellite radio and cable television. The technology is there, but the corporate will to offer it seems to have vanished – if it was really ever there in the first place.

Corporate desire to maximize profits is not a bad thing. The real culprits here are the mutton-headed bureaucrats at the FCC – and in Congress – who don’t seem to have a clue about how a monopoly preys on consumers, but eventually comes home to roost. We had hoped that Liberty Media's bailout of Sirius-XM last winter might provide some impetus for business practices that would revitalize satellite radio. It appears we were wrong.

Look for continuing problems in the satellite radio business.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to spend more time with a few good local broadcasters – and their advertisers.

Oh, yes, today I also test drove a couple of Internet Radios – interesting gizmos that may have a real impact on all broadcasters, but especially the Sirius-XM monopoly.

Like I said, look for more tough times for the satellite radio folks.

1 comment:

cp said...

We have bailed on cable -- it was just too much for our stretched budget to handle. Those $5 increases every six months add up.

Most of what we watched (local TV, MSNBC) is available over the air on on iTunes podcasts.