Monday, March 24, 2008

Bootleggers, Baptists, and Satellite Radio

The good news: Justice Dept. approves XM-Sirius merger
...despite opposition from consumer groups and an intense lobbying campaign by the land-based radio industry.
What does this news have to do with "Bootleggers and Baptists"?
  • "Bootleggers" are market incumbents (in this case, the land-based radio industry), who benefit from the suppression of competition (as bootleggers did during Prohibition).
  • "Baptists" are self-appointed guardians of our health and well-being (the sum of all our risk-averse fears, you might say). In this case, the Baptists are "consumer groups" (meaning anti-business alliances), which reflexively oppose mergers.
(For more, see Bruce Yandle's "Bootleggers and Baptists in Retrospect.")

As a Sirius subscriber, I am glad of the Justice Department's decision -- given that DoJ had to be involved, in the first place. Why? Because (a) Sirius is now more likely to survive , and (b) it will offer (via its merger with XM) more programs.

Related posts:
"More Commandments of Economics" (#19) (06 Dec 2005)
"Monopoly and the General Welfare" (25 Feb 2006)