Cramer Slams NAB For Opposing Satellite Radio Merger
While Cramer usually steers clear of political issues, his opinions carry a great deal of weight with viewers who look to him for investment advice, including forecasts on proposed deals like the Sirius-XM merger. Cramer specifically attacked Congress, the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission for portraying the merger as monopolistic. He noted that they didn't raise the same kind of anti-trust concerns about other big media deals.
Cramer also lashed out at terrestrial broadcasters, calling them "a powerful moneyed interest that has a lot of influence on politicians, even though as a business, it's dead, and no one's listening."
Separately, James Goss, an analyst who follows radio for Barrington Research, remarked in a note to clients that the DOJ review of the merger is taking an "unusual" amount of time, suggesting the deal faces an uphill battle for regulatory approval. Although the deal may fail to win approval, Goss said: "We continue to feel the merger seems justifiable in light of the changed landscape for audio entertainment in the years since the licenses were first granted."
Goss also predicted that both companies could suffer financially if the merger isn't allowed to proceed; Sirius chief Mel Karmazin has said the merged company would achieve substantial cost savings in customer acquisition, research and development, and other areas.
Indeed, both companies' finances remain shaky, although they are improving slightly over previous years. Sirius released its fourth-quarter results on Tuesday, posting a smaller loss of $166.2 million, compared to more than $245 million in the same 2006 period. Overall, the company recruited 2.3 million new subscribers during the fourth quarter.
Regardless of the merger's fate, Karmazin says Sirius will look to advertising for revenue growth in future. Though he admitted the 15% growth in ad revenue over the course of the year, to $35 million, wasn't as strong as he'd like. Ultimately, he hopes advertising will make up 10% of the company's overall revenues, which were $249 million in the fourth quarter and $922 million for the year.