The North Carolina Association of Broadcasters wrote FCC Chairman Kevin Martin last month to express their strong opposition to the merger of the XM and Sirius satellite radio companies.
The position on the merger–no big surprise–is arguably not as important as the postmark on the letter.
Broadcasters are on the record loud and clear that they think allowing the merger would create a monopoly in national audio service that local stations could not compete with on a level playing field. The North Carolina contingent–250 radio and TV station members–added the argument that if the FCC allows the satellite radio merger, can satellite TV be far behind.
But the big stick in the letter that appears to be aimed at the soft-spoken chairman is where the letter comes from and the power of the broadcasters in that state.
Martin is a native of Charlotte, N.C, and a UNC grad. He is widely thought to have political ambitions there once his FCC tenure is through, perhaps even cutting it short to throw his hat in one or another ring.
Martin has gotten high marks from broadcasters for championing multicast must-carry, but he could los some of that cachet if the FCC finds a way to approve the merger.
As if to drive home the point of the power of the North Carolina media, the letter includes a three-page "sample" of the stations opposing the merger that includes call-letters from 83 stations and the signatures of execetitves running all of them.
By John Eggerton