Two key merger conditions suggested recently by Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) “fall short of what is necessary to ensure that the merger is in the public interest,” Public Knowledge (PK) and Media Access Project (MAP) today told FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.
In a June 10 letter to Martin, the groups said that the merger should include stronger commitments for set-asides for channel capacity for non-commercial broadcasters and for making consumer equipment to receive the combined satellite service more widely available.
In addition, the groups said that rather than have the “voluntary commitments” the companies presented to the FCC, the Commission should include in any merger approval an enforcement mechanism to make certain the combined company follows the terms the Commission approves.
The satellite companies in a June 13 letter to the Commission proposed to set aside four percent of “full-time audio channels” for noncommercial programming. PK/MAP said that method of allocating capacity “not only ensures that the set-aside will remain static; it also permits the licensee to engage in brinkmanship to reduce its obligation.” The groups have asked for the set-aside to be based on total spectrum capacity. There should also be a commitment to diversity of programming, the groups said.
PK/MAP also objected to several conditions the companies proposed for receivers, including a one-year moratorium before technology is licensed and that the merged company would approve the devices. The groups said the delay is “a further extension of a 10-year-old vertical monopoly over the network and devices” and said the open device requirement should start the day the merger is approved. They added that if the FCC certification process for receivers is insufficient, the FCC “should require that an independent laboratory undertake such testing.”
The groups' June 10 letter is here:
The proposal from the company is here:
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