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The Therapy Sessions
Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Local radio providers whine

Satellite Radio Makes the Locals Sweat

Summary: local radio providers are trying to get government to force the satellite radio providers to stop providing local weather and traffic in their biggest markets.

My take: For the last month or so, I have enjoyed listening to round-the-clock traffic and weather on my car XM. It has saved me time in the morning, and it has reminded me to take my umbrella when I leave the car. Once I have this information, I'm free to listen to music.

The companies that run regular terrestrial radio - which provides the horrendus, repetitive, commercial-packed radio stations I used to listen to - are going crazy about this. It's unfair!

I have news for them: competition is always unfair. If it was "fair," no one would ever win. If I were playing basketball with Michael Jordan, it would hardly be fair: he has years of practice, height, smarts and strength going for him. Fair does not mean that I have decent chance to compete. Fair means that Michael and I stay within the rules of the game, rules which specifically favor neither of us.

The rules of capitalism are simple: if the customer is willing to pay for something, he should be able to get it (provided that "it" is lawful).

Under these rules, sometimes companies win. The horror!

And winning is exactly what XM and Sirius are doing. Anyone who has listened to them knows why.

Technology is always improving, and consumer options are always increasing.

These pouting companies - who have been crushing their competition for years - now appeal to the government to protect them when they are threatened.

They say they want "managed competition" that would restrict the satellite providers from giving their customers what they want (and are willing to pay for).

It's protectionism, and it is the ticket to economic stagnation. Any government that would give them such protection is overly powerful. There should be no redress for these companies.

That's competition! It's called capitalism, and you better get used to it (or go to Europe where they might entertain such silly ideas like managing competition).

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