Public Knowledge Conditions Reflected In FCC Draft Order On XM-Sirius Merger
Public Knowledge Conditions Reflected In FCC Draft Order On XM-Sirius Merger
Public Knowledge Conditions Reflected In FCC Draft Order On XM-Sirius Merger

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    The following statement is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

    “From what we have been able to read and to learn this morning, many of the conditions the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering placing on a potential merger of XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio are conditions that we have proposed and supported for more than a year, both in Congressional testimony, as well as in meetings with the Commission.

    “We support what we have heard today about the Commission’s proposals, although we would like to know more about how the set-aside for noncommercial channels would be implemented.

    “Press reports indicate that the Commission is considering placing a price cap on programming of perhaps three years, as well as that the new combined company;

    • offer a la carte programming choices;
    • open the standards for satellite radio receivers so that any device manufacturer can make satellite radios;
    • set aside 4 percent of their spectrum capacity (what now amounts to 12 channels) for non-commercial educational programming;
    • lease another 4 percent to groups like minorities and women who are underrepresented in broadcasting; and
    • manufacture interoperable radios that allow a subscriber to receive programming from both providers.

    “We proposed many of those same conditions most recently in our March 10 submission to the Commission which, is here. The conditions that we proposed were:

    • 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 non-commercial 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.
    • 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 look forward to working with the Commission as the details of this agreement are made final.”