A greater ability to purge my radio programming of banal music and incessant advertising is music to my ears -- at almost any price.
That's why I don't need the Feds to protect me from an alleged satellite-radio monopoly.
The Justice Department's approval of the merger between
Sirius Satellite Radio
XM Satellite Radio Holdings
( XMSR) is good news.
Sure, price matters, but not nearly as much as the expanded choices for consumers -- and the empowerment to break away from commercial radio stations whose programming often borders on noise pollution.
News You Need: Sirius and XM Satellite Radio
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Advertisers pay huge media conglomerates such as
Clear Channel Communications
-- which owns and operates more than 1,200 U.S. radio stations - to disseminate their messages across the airwaves, regardless of whether I'm interested.
I'll willingly use my cash to silence the sales pitch.
I may even have a few dollars to spare when the merger is complete. Sirius and XM have announced a variety of price plans -- several of which cost less than my present $12 monthly fee. Listeners will also be able to select a la carte channels -- an option that will make it possible for my husband and I to combine our favorite channels, without maintaining subscriptions for two separate providers.
Yes, I know. Commercial radio is free. But that doesn't matter if it gives me a headache.
The notion of advertiser-sponsored entertainment is becoming a relic from another era. As media-industry consolidation forces more stations into the hands of fewer companies, listening to commercial radio is often as painful as hearing fingernails scratch a chalkboard.
Last year, representatives from the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Broadcasters, testified before four different Congressional committees about their concerns regarding the Sirius and XM Merger. The organization, which represents 8,300 radio stations and other broadcasters, must have been really worried about losing listeners. David K. Rehr, the organization's president and CEO, described the merger as a "government-sanctioned monopoly."
But I disagree.
Radio exists in many forms today, including free, ingenious online services, such as
, whose Music Genome Project technology analyzes a database to help listeners create personal stations, based on their music preferences. The eclectic
features 13 commercial-free stations. Virgin Radio, an online, commercial, U.K pop station, even trumps the state of ad-sponsored U.S. radio. Many of the British ads and public service announcements -- such as a recent campaign about sexually transmitted diseases -- are at least brazen and provocative.
A merger between Sirius and XM -- both of which operate in the red -- will empower the combined unit to stage a more cost-efficient, united front against such formidable online competition.
NAB's anti-merger advertising campaign also describes satellite radio devices as violating FCC rules. But shouldn't broadcasters favor the use of more advanced radio devices by consumers? Perhaps NAB should advocate changing FCC rules to reflect modern technology, instead of using scare tactics.
The Sirius-XM merger deal isn't why commercial radio is in danger of failing. Media conglomerates and advertisers have only themselves to blame for airing too much noise that people don't want to hear.
And to think -- I can pay my way out of it for just $12 per month.
That sure beats driving alone in silence.
Suzanne Barlyn is a writer in Washington Crossing, Pa.