By Brandon Matthews
Traditional forms of media including television, radio and print are threatened by the success of Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI). There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the organizations behind traditional forms of media have united on a single front to denigrate the Satellite Radio provider at any and all costs. I know this first hand as most of the negative comments left on Satwaves.com can be traced back to everything from terrestrial radio station operators to the National Association of Broadcasters. These traditional media conglomerates control everything most people see and hear. Consider if you will the number 1 hit by the Black Eyed Peas in which the words “Satellite Radio” have been bleeped out by terrestrial radio stations from coast to coast.
In the years since Howard Stern first joined Sirius, traditional media has made a point of downplaying Howard Stern's relevance. Just last October, the Los Angeles Times published this article which made the claim that Howard Stern was no longer relevant, and that his listeners had dwindled to a fraction of the number that once tuned in. The Los Angeles Times happens to be owned by Tribune; “America’s largest employee-owned media company, operating businesses in publishing, interactive and broadcasting.” The same article was syndicated and republished on an almost daily basis for several weeks that followed, assuring that the story would be told in every major U.S. market and maintain a top ranked listing in google news search results.
That is why I could not help but laugh hysterically at the newest media attempts to control the American public’s view of Sirius XM Radio through new articles that claim Howard Stern will leave Sirius XM nearly two years from now. These articles now make the claim that Howard Stern is so important and popular, that Sirius XM’s survival hinges on whether or not Howard decides to stay with Sirius XM when his contract comes up for renewal in 2011! Unfortunately, some people seem to be buying into this manipulation and fear-mongering. The reach of these media outlets is unlimited in scope.
As an example, on the eve of Sirius XM’s announcement that its iPhone application had reached a million downloads, a story was written suggesting that Sirius XM stock would be a good short sale candidate by a known writer who has denigrated Sirius for years. I recall writing that it seemed like a signal was being sent on the Satwaves forums the moment I read it. As trading progressed the following day it looked as if Sirius XM stock would rise precipitously on the iPhone application news. CNBC even picked up the story, but if you follow Sirius XM you knew what was coming next.
It was then reported that the app, despite having over a million downloads, had a low rating based on the absence of The Howard Stern Show. The very same show that the media has been proclaiming to be irrelevant. The stock ended the day's session flat as a result. Out of nearly 19 million subscribers and out of 1 million iPhone app downloads, the app was given a low rating by a mere 38,000 people. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that anyone can bash the application, whether or not they even own an Apple device. I rated the application 5 stars, and I have no iPod nor iPhone. I simply signed up using my AOL account. It can hardly be deemed a reliable source of consumer sentiment compared to the fact that it remains the number 1 downloaded music application.
As for Howard Stern, terrestrial radio is already on life support. Clear Channel is knocking on bankruptcy’s door. When it comes to radio companies, there is only one that is growing. There is only one that can offer Howard the freedom to do his show and produce new shows without fear of retribution from the FCC. By the year 2011, it is probable that no radio company in existence would be able to afford Howard Stern while offering him a minuscule percentage of his current national audience. Only one radio company can offer The Howard Stern Show a potential global audience in the years to come. That radio company is Sirius XM Radio.
As for the media manipulation: People should make a stand. If you’d like to be told what to read and hear only that which is selected for you, you might want to consider a move to North Korea. Turn off your am/fm radios. Pick up a Satellite Radio and subscription. Send a message to traditional media that they cannot control what you see and what you hear. I have and in this lies true freedom.
Position: Long SIRI