League of Rural Voters Backs XM-Funded Study


The League of Rural Voters is the latest to weigh in on the XM/Siriusmerger.

The group, which supports the proposed deal, gave its blessing to an XM-funded "white paper" Thursday that draws distinctions between this proposed merger and the proposed merger of DirecTV and EchoStar in 2002, which the FCC nixed.

While the e-mailed press release said the league was releasing the study, league executive director Niel Ritchie confirmed XM had paid for it, but said it squared with the league's belief that a stronger satellite market would be a boon to rural communities he said were underserved by traditonal radio.

The paper points to what the league agrees is a fundamental difference between the satellite TV andradio markets, arguing that the FCC's guidance in denying the TV merger "provides no guidance" here.

Echoing the XM/Sirius arguments to Congress, the white paper calls satellite radio "a small part of the highly competitive and ever-expanding market for audio entertainment services."

By contrast, the paper says, the FCC identified the satellite radio market as "very narrow." It was that narrow field that raised concerns about "reduction of viewpoint diversity and the creation of amonopoly in areas without cable," the paper says, concerns that "do not apply to satellite radio," where there are competitors, even after the merger, that would have larger market shares.

Also weighing in Thursday in support of the merger was yet another women's/minority group, the National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO), which called on the FCC to approve the deal, saying it would strengthen the satellite industry as a competitor in an overall radio market domainated by men.

Not since the height of the network neutrality blitz over the national video franchise law have media reporters' e-mail boxes been so flooded with endorsements, studies and letters. XM/Sirius have gotten the backing of numerous minority organizations, while the National Association of Broadcasters can  point to some high-profile legislators who have expressed concerns or outrise oppse the deal.

The League filed the study, SIRIUS/XM vs. Echostar/DirecTV: A Fundamentally Different Merger for Rural Consumers, as comments to the FCC.