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Is the Sirius & XM satellite radio merger good for rural America?

Is the Sirius & XM satellite radio merger good for rural America?

League of rural voters say that satellite radio gives rural listeners better content and coverage than corporate radio conglomerates.

An interesting development in the fight over the Sirius & XM satellite radio merger occurred this morning, one that will surely make Howard Stern happy on his vacation this week, with the League of Rural Voters coming out strongly on the side for the merger to be approved.

The League of Rural Voters, founded in 1985 as a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the representation of rural people in the public policy making process, has urged the FCC to approve the merger between SIRIUS and XM Satellite Radio, noting that the combined entity would offer rural listeners more programming options at lower prices than those currently available from the two companies separately.

Tired of the poor content and shoddy reception from distant, unresponsive, radio conglomerates, the League of Rural Voters says that a “robust alternative” is necessary.

“In many rural areas throughout America, commercial radio reception can be extremely limited. Satellite radio has offered listeners in rural areas a robust alternative with hundreds of specialized channels that meet the programming needs of rural America,” said Niel Ritchie, the League’s Executive Director.

Consolidation of the commercial, over-the-air radio industry over the last decade has left much of rural America behind in recent years, as locally-owned stations are replaced with corporate conglomerates producing homogenized content with so-called local news and weather delivered from offices hundreds of miles away.

Satellite radio is often the best source of diverse music, talk, news, and sports in remote areas, as many other alternatives to terrestrial radio like online or cable TV content have yet to reach there.

The League also highlighted rural listeners’ dependence on satellite radio’s emergency and public safety stations.

This support from a rural advocacy group could be a powerful new tool in Mel Karmazin’s bid to get the FCC to approve the merger. With what appears to be only two Democrats on the Commission, Adelstein and Copps, it may still be an uphill battle for it seems that the other 3 may be tied up by Bush’s probable distaste for what some have called the “excessive freedom” associated with satellite radio.

Either way, the League of Rural Voters makes an excellent point in that some people don’t have internet connections or even decent radio reception, making satellite radio, and the decreased subscription costs the merger almost certainly guarantees, a win-win situation for all.

Jared Moya
I've been interested in P2P since the early, high-flying days of Napster and KaZaA. I believe that analog copyright laws are ill-suited to the digital age, and that art and culture shouldn't be subject to the whims of international entertainment industry conglomerates. Twitter | Google Plus

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