What to Learn from the XM-Sirius Merger: The "Friends of the Consumer" Are Your Enemy
By Bryan Caplan
The deal reportedly will also include a three-year price freeze and two-dozen channels dedicated to noncommercial programming.
Yes, that’s right. A price freeze for firms that are losing so much money they still might go bankrupt. And a legal requirement to carry a bunch of stations hardly anyone wants. It’s a classic case of Orwellian “pro-consumer” regs that discourage innovation and equate “the public interest” with “that which does not interest the public.”
By the way, don’t confuse “noncommercial” with “commercial-free.” Here‘s a fair summary:
“Noncommercial”, in this context, clearly doesn’t mean advertising-free, since that would apply to nearly all of the programming. And it doesn’t mean programming which is available without a subscription, either: you’ll need to pay to listen to anything on satellite radio. It doesn’t even mean diverse programming: the whole satellite radio business model is based on the idea of providing a vast range of options to subscribers, thereby maximizing the number of people you’re potentially appealing to.
What “noncommercial” really means is “public educational broadcasters, non-profit educational institutions, and local low-power radio stations.” The horror! The horror!
Of course, it could have been worse. FCC hold-out Adelstein was pushing for…
…a six-year price freeze and for more noncommercial channels than XM and Sirius have agreed to create.
“Instead, it appears they’re going to get a monopoly with window dressing,” he said Wednesday. “We missed a great opportunity to reach a bipartisan agreement that would have benefited the American people.”
Gee, does this mean the best thing for the American people would be a permanent price freeze and nothing but hundreds of channels of “public educational broadcasters, non-profit educational institutions, and local low-power radio stations”? Wow, compared to that, even terrestrial top-40 sounds pretty good.
HT: Corina Capan