FCC Comissioner Says He Backs Sirius XM Merger.

In assasination, Broadcasting, Industry, industry excesses, media, Satelite Radio, Technology, unintended consequences on June 18, 2008 by Editor Z

For months talk of a merger of the two sole satellite radio providers XM and Sirius, have been in the process of seeking approval for a 3.85 billion dollar merger of the two companies.

News of the merger came in 2007, and just this past March, the Department of Justice concluded its investigation into the merger, which critics argue will give the one company a monopoly in the field of satellite radio.

Now Kevin Martin, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has indicated that he would support the agreement reached by Sirius and XM and allow the two to go through with the merger.



WASHINGTON — The static may be lifting on the long-pending merger between the nation’s only two satellite radio operators after a key regulator backed its approval Monday.

The conditions requested by Kevin J. Martin, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, could lead to lower prices for the next three years for subscribers of Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. and XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. Martin said the companies agreed to the conditions, which mirror those requested by some influential lawmakers and public interest groups.

“I am recommending that with the voluntary commitments they’ve offered, on balance, this transaction would be in the public interest,” Martin said in a written statement.

But the signals aren’t all clear yet. Two leading consumer advocates blasted the proposed conditions as failing to ensure that satellite radio prices won’t eventually rise. And Martin, a Republican, may have trouble pushing his proposal through the FCC.

“As I’ve said from the beginning, this merger is a steep climb for me. That hasn’t changed,” said Commissioner Michael J. Copps, a Democrat. He said he would review the plan by Martin with an open mind. The four other commissioners declined to comment, as did Sirius and XM.

MY TAKE: This is a hard one. As all frequent readers know I am a sirius satelite radio subscriber. The more channels will be welcome for me personally (although I am sure at some juncture the monthly rates for service will increase in some way). But media is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands rather it be Disney,General Electric, the Tribune company, Clear Channel, News Corp (Ruppert Murdoch), or any others in the twisted oligopoly that is the modern day media.

Critics of the merger, which include good government and corporate watchdog groups, and terrestrial radio (including the National Association of Broadcasters) point out the obvious conflict here, which is that a merger of these two companies would establish one behemoth of a company that would dominate the sphere of satellite radio and not permit any realistic chance for genuine competition.

But backers of the proposed merger, such as Sirius and XM, say that the music, sporting events, talk shows, and other entertainment can be found with other such things as the Internet, cable tv, ipods, Cds, and traditional non-pay radio; and therefore they all can act as true competitors to the Sirius XM provider.

That is a good argument, but in this day and age of increasing media consolidation, lax enforcement of anti-trust laws, and the such; I would feel better if there could continue to be some competition in the satellite radio industry as well. But we will see what happens.


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