My recent criticism of Sirius Satellite Radio CEO Mel Karmazin was a bit over the top and wrong. In a blog post titled "Are You Sirius?", I wrote: "...the CEO of the merged companies will be Mel Karmazin, who does not have a strong record of keeping his promises to the FCC or to Congress."
I was challenged to find "one example in ... 40 years of being a licensee" that Karmazin has not kept his promises to the FCC or Congress, and I could think of none. Thus, I am guilty of sloppy blogging and even sloppier hyperbole. I should not have allowed my distaste for Karmazin's management style and anger over his continual defense of Howard Stern on First Amendment grounds to taint my recollection of the facts.
When I asked the advice of a friend who worked for Karmazin at CBS, my friend wrote: "The indignation of a bully wrapped around first amendment gloss can't withstand the scrutiny of staffing numbers of local newsrooms. Every reporter let go to help achieve operating efficiencies is a broken promise."
Furthermore, Karmazin publicly decried the Federal ban on cigarette advertising on radio and television on First Amendment grounds. Karmazin championed potty mouth Howard Stern and paid obscenity fines because of him. Under Karmazin's leadership at CBS, some CBS owned TV stations used a so-called Time Machine to digitally speed up network commercials in order to fit more local commercials in, contrary to FCC regulations.
However, I cannot remember any specific promises that he broke to Congress or the FCC. I made an error. I should have written that he does not have a strong record of keeping his implied commitments of public service and operating in the "public good, convenience and necessity." Howard Stern may have the free-speech right to pollute the airwaves with filth and sexism, but I do not believe that Stern is doing a "public good."
I also do not believe that the merger of XM and Sirius will be in the public interest. The merger is mostly in the interests of the stockholders of the two companies, including Mel Karmazin, who has an estimated $30-40 million invested in Sirius. But, I should not have stretched the facts to support my belief.
I apologize to the readers of this blog for the hyperbole error and misstatement. I would punish myself by listening to Howard Stern, but I don't subscribe to Sirius, so, instead, I'm going to forget about the whole thing by listening to a couple of hours of John Coltrane on my iPod.
Apple's iPod has largely been responsible for the problems now faced by Sirius and XM -- problems which have been acerbated by the irresponsible over-spending on programming by Sirius's CEO Karmazin, who should not be bailed out by the FCC by allowing the merger.
Follow Charles Warner on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CHWarner