Antitrust Attorney David Kully was quoted in Politico's latest Morning Tech Newsletter about a potential bid by Liberty Media to acquire iHeartMedia. Liberty owns a controlling stake of the U.S.' biggest satellite radio provider, Sirius XM, which itself bought the streaming radio platform Pandora last year. Meanwhile, iHeartMedia is the nation's largest owner of broadcast radio stations. It owns more than 850 AM and FM stations, as well as the streaming service iHeartRadio, which has 120 million registered users. And it ranks as the world's top commercial publisher of podcasts. Six public advocacy groups are asking the Justice Department to oppose this potential bid.
Mr. Kully analyzed the issue from an antitrust perspective highlighting that the Justice Department's traditional antitrust review of radio deals has focused on how the mergers will impact advertising. But a merger involving Sirius XM, Pandora and iHeart could likely raise concerns about programming. "It seems plausible that Sirius XM and some large iHeart stations are competing for listeners and that's something the antitrust enforcers aren't going to be able to ignore," Mr. Kully said.
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