It’s now been over a year that the XM -Sirius merger has been held up by regulators. Congress has spent more time examining this deal between two companies that, together, make up less than 5% of the radio market, than it did examining the Exxon-Mobil deal. Or Chevron-Texaco. Or even the decision to invade Iraq.
As far as Cramer is concerned, that is just absurd.
In January, he outlined the reasons why he thinks the merger should get done – why it’s not a monopoly, why it’s better for the consumers and shareholders and why Congress shouldn’t stand in the way. But a month has gone by and there is still no movement. Cramer is sure the deal is being held up thanks to the heavily influential terrestrial radio lobby in Washington that is scared to death of competing with a combined XM-Sirius.
So is it a coincidence that a handful of the Congressmen that sent a bipartisan letter opposing the merger to the FCC and Department of Justice also have accepted money from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) lobbying group?
Of the House Democrats, Cramer found out that Gene Green of Texas took $10,000 from NAB this cycle and another $6,000 in the 2006 cycle. Louise Slaughter from New York took a grand and put her name on the letter. South Carolina’s John Spratt got $2,000 from NAB this cycle and another $6,000 in 2006.
On the Republican side there is Missouri’s Roy Blunt, the minority whip who got $5,000 from NAB in 2006 and Tom Cole of Arizona who has taken $2,500 this cycle and took another thousand last cycle.
(Mad Money called the offices of all the above representatives for comment. Only Representatives Spratt and Blunt got back to us before the show. Spratt’s office said they had been accepting money from NAB long before this issue came up and he opposes the merger because it would be a monopoly. Blunt’s office said he believes the merger creates antitrust issues and undermines traditional and local radio.)
While it’s perfectly legal to accept money from lobbyists, Cramer called out these members of Congress for blocking the deal for what seems like no good reason other than to placate the dying-but-still-influential terrestrial radio industry.
So Congress, Cramer wants you to listen up. Just because it passes in Washington doesn’t mean it will fly in Cramerica.
Questions for Cramer? email@example.com
Questions, comments, suggestions for the Mad Money website? firstname.lastname@example.org