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XM-Sirius Merger Still Under Scrutiny

frankmeyer
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Posted May 2, 2008 - By Frank Meyer

Don’t get too excited for all that unfiltered, uncensored satellite radio content you think you might be getting if XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio merge….it hasn’t happened yet.

It turns out that key congressional Democrats are urging the Federal Communications Commission to impose limits on the merger designed to “protect” consumers. Most of their points have to do with pricing and equipment, and thankfully not content regulation…yet.

Though they insist they're not taking a position on whether the FCC should allow the merger to happen, per say, in a letter on Thursday, Reps. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) said regulators should consider certain steps as they weigh whether the union of the only two U.S. satellite radio operators satisfies the "public interest." Dingell and Markey are the chairmen of two House of Representatives panels that oversee the FCC.

Here's a highlight from their letter that explains their position:

First, the Commission should require the merged entity to adhere, at a minimum, to the pricing constraints that XM and Sirius have already submitted to the Commission. Such a condition would ensure that a combined entity does not take advantage of consumers by leveraging its position as sole provider of satellite radio services by raising prices.

Second, the Commission should require the merged company to permit any device manufacturer to develop equipment that can deliver the company's satellite radio service. Device manufacturers should also be permitted to incorporate in satellite radio receivers any other technology that would not result in harmful interference with the merged company's network, including hybrid digital (HD) radio technology, iPod ports, Internet connectivity, or other technology. This principle of openness would serve to promote competition, protect consumers, and spur technological innovation. 

Meanwhile, the Justice Department decided that the merger would not "substantially lessen competition," and XM and Sirius shareholders approved the transaction last December. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said in late March that the agency is inching closer to a decision on whether the deal passes muster. 

News.com: Democrats to FCC: Restrict XM-Sirius deal

Tags: Music, Tech
XM-Sirius Merger Still Under Scrutiny
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