Law school students lobby for satellite radio rights

Subscribers to satellite radio have a new voice of support at the GW Law School.

A group of students recently formed the Consumer Coalition for Competition in Satellite Radio, or C3SR, to raise awareness about the dangers for consumers of a rumored satellite radio merger between Sirius and XM.

“A merger would mean a monopoly, and a monopoly would decrease the protections for consumers,” said Chris Reale, a founding member of C3SR and a GW law student.

The main goal of the advocacy group, which was first announced in a press release Jan. 12, is to raise awareness of the negative outcomes for consumers of a Sirius-XM merger. “If consumers’ voices … and concerns are heard by the (Department of Justice) and the (Federal Communication Commission), that can go a long way to protect consumers,” Reale said.

Reale, an XM subscriber, fears a merger will give consumers less choices in content and put the competitive price of satellite radio service in jeopardy. According to their Web sites, both Sirius and XM cost $12.95 a month.

Wall Street analysts have fueled rumors of a Sirius-XM merger. A merge would be advantageous for the companies’ shareholders, and recent comments about merging from the CEO of Sirius gave more validity to the speculation.

However, any merger could take a year or more to complete because of complicated FCC regulations, Reale said, and he plans on using this time to rally the C3SR troops.

“If they do announce a merger, we plan on stepping up our efforts,” Reale said.

A C3SR Web site, C3SR.org, will soon be launched to provide information to consumers about a possible merger and to serve as a forum for concerned customers to talk about their experiences, Reale said.

Reale first thought about starting an advocacy group when he began learning about antitrust laws as a GW student. Since its formation, C3SR has garnered attention from online technology publications and was mentioned in the Washington Times.

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