Siriusly 2: Little Ditty ‘Bout Babs ‘N Dianne

About a month ago I probably glazed most eyes over writing about the concerns I have regarding the proposed satellite radio acquisition of XM by its rival Sirius. I won’t bore you again with the specifics other than to say that as a long-time Sirius subscriber I’m still just as wary of the rumors that the individual companies’ existing hardware might not accommodate the combined programming of the new single entity and thus require some sort of cash outlay for a new radio.

The vague explanation that remains on the Sirius Merger website coupled  to the silence that’s greeted my specific correspondence to Sirius on the topic has served to only increase my apprehension, and prompted me to write my U.S. senators about it.

I heard first back from Barbara Boxer whose platitude-loaded form letter pretty much boiled down to “this is an important issue,” and “thanks for writing to me.” Thanks for nothing, Babs.

Would that Sen. Feinstein had been so generic. Instead her response blew me away with how much she — or more specifically one of her staffers — blew it in misreading my letter as one expressing wholehearted support of the proposed merger:

Dear Mr. Campbell,

Thank you for writing regarding your support for the proposed merger between Sirius and XM satellite radio. I appreciate your taking the time to share your views.

The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission share concurrent jurisdiction over merger enforcement. It is their duty to carefully review, among other things, the potential implication of mergers on consumers and businesses. This is a crucial function of both agencies and it is often a very lengthy process.

Although mergers do not require congressional approval, the Senate Judiciary Committee has oversight jurisdiction over mergers and held a hearing last year to consider the implications of the proposed merger. Although I was unable to attend that hearing, I have been following this potential merger closely because, if it takes place, it could have a major effect on the media market in this country. On one hand we would go from a market with two satellite radio companies, competing fiercely to develop their content and attract subscribers, to just one satellite radio company. This could limit the choices available to consumers. On the other hand, I recognize that XM and Sirius have raised concerns that there is the potential for both companies to go out of business if the merger does not go forward, leaving the satellite radio market void. Please be assured that I will keep your support for the merger in mind should the Senate consider these issues further.

Once again, thank you for writing and I hope you will continue to write to me about issues of importance to you. If I can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my Washington, DC staff at (202) 224‑3841.

Best regards.

Sincerely yours,
Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

My “support” of the merger? Of course I WTF’d an email right back at Dianne:

Senator Feinstein,

Did your staff even READ my letter? I ask this with pointed incredulity because you reference my “support” of the Sirius/XM merger twice in your response when in fact my letter to you expressed the reservations I have regarding the acquisition of XM by Sirius and how it might make current subscribers’ existing equipment obsolete, thus necessitating costly purchases of new hardware in order to take advantage of the new hybrid programming.

If you or your staff even bother to read this I only hope it’s clear how absolutely disappointing  it is to be so grossly misinterpreted.

William Campbell