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Sirius/XM Merger clears another hurdle

by on17 June 2008


Strange provisions imposed by the FCC Chairman

The Sirius/XM satellite radio merger has been hung up for quite a while with a variety of wrangling over what is in the customer’s best interest. It would appear that FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has got Sirius and XM to agree to what, in our opinion, are some of the most bizarre restrictions in order to gain his blessing on the merger deal.

Martin has gotten Sirius and XM to agree as part of the merger deal that they will use 8 percent of their combined satellite bandwidth for non-commercial and minority programming. This will equate to about 24 channels in total between the two companies.

Many Sirius and XM subscribers are already sounding off that they believe that these additional 24 channels will impact the programming that they are paying for. Unlike free air radio, satellite radio subscribers pay a per month fee for access to the programming that is offered by Sirius and XM. During times when a large amount of sports programming is available, at the same time Sirius and XM are already having capacity issues of being able to deliver all of the programming.

While the concept of promoting competition among satellite radio manufacturers through an “open radio” standard would truly benefit consumers, as well as a three-year price freeze, forcing customers to pay for non-commercial and minority programming that in many cases they don’t want is already leaving a bad taste with some subscribers.

Although Martin says he will give his blessing on the merger, it is unknown how the other commissioners will vote. Nothing says that Martin’s approval will assure that the merger will be approved.

Last modified on 17 June 2008
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