The U.S. Department of Justice today approved the merger between XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio.
The following is the comment of Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:
“Public Knowledge has maintained that the merger, if it passed antitrust scrutiny, should be approved with a number of conditions. With the Justice Department decision sanctioning them merger, the next move is up to the Federal Communications Commission. We hope the Commission will act accordingly to impose conditions that serve the interests of consumers.”
The conditions Public Knowledge has suggested are:
The new company should make available pricing choices such as a la carte or tiered programming;
The new company should make 5% of its channel capacity available to noncommercial educational and informational programming over which it has no editorial control;
The new company should agree not to raise prices for its combined programming package (as opposed to each individual company's current programming package) for three years after the merger is approved; and
The new company should make the technical specifications of its devices and network open and available to allow device manufacturers to develop, and consumers to use, any device they choose without interference. Pursuant to Commission rules, these devices must be certified by the FCC for receiving signals on the frequencies licensed to the merged entity and be subject to a minimum “do-no-harm” requirement.
Sohn added: “We have also asked the Commission to refrain from conditioning the merger on: 1) a prohibition on satellite radio providers providing local programming and 2) any content protection mandate such as the audio broadcast flag. We hope the Commission will act on these requests also.”
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-249-9435.