Sirius: Will Programming Train Wreck Hurt Merger?

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XM Satellite Radio (XMSR) favorites Opie and Anthony made some sexual remarks about Queen Elizabeth and Condoleezza Rice. The show hosts made an obligatory apology and XM said it was embarrassed and ashamed. The duo will be back on the air as scheduled. Sirius (SIRI) has its own version of shock radio in Howard Stern.

All of this may be a problem as the two satellite radio operators try to merge. Congress and the FCC are looking hard at the deal. Their biggest problem so far is that they think the combination could form a monopoly. Not good for the consumers and all. The fact that the two companies are close to financial failure doesn’t seem to matter.

But, the Don Imus incident has raised the profile of racist and sexist remarks to a new level. Imus was booted from CBS and MSNBC. Of course, the FCC regulates over-the-air radio program content. Its does not have the same power over satellite radio.

But, the FCC may want a bit at the apple. Pushing for less raunchy content could be part of that. And, what congressman wants to say he approved of a merger that involves a company which has show hosts making sexual comments about the Queen of England.

Opie and Anthony are not doing their employers any favors. But, without over-the-top content, satellite radio would probably see a drop in subscriptions.

Classic lose lose.

Douglas A. McIntyre