Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sirius and XM Merger Approved, Finally

According to the Washington Post and other sources, by a 3-2 vote at the FCC, the Sirius-XM satellite radio merger has finally been approved. There were a few additional conditions agreed to by the two companies, including a "slap on the wrist" $19.7 million fine primarily attributable to XM, because some of the FM transmitters built into XM receivers were too powerful and interfered with conventional broadcasts. Also, some of their terrestrial repeaters used to provide better coverage in urban areas were both located in the wrong places and were too powerful, and thus they also interfered with conventional broadcasts.

Another condition was that both companies agreed to expedite the development of receivers that will work with both Sirius and XM, a promise that the two companies actually made prior to the launch of either company's satellite radio service, but that has never been carried out. The companies also agreed to freeze prices for three years (which they had, again, previously agreed to,) and to offer subscribers the option of picking and choosing channels from the two company's services (a la carte pricing), a capability that won't be available until dual Sirius-XM receivers hit the market.

In short, it looks as though the two companies made minimal concessions. Given that the U.S. Justice Department previously approved the merger even without these concessions, it's extremely unlikely that any other legal obstacles are likely to arise. Given currernt economic conditions, however, it's essential for the merged company to start cutting costs immediately, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if the merged company starts to drop duplicate staff and put much the same programming on both services as soon as possible. (Howard Stern on both Sirius and XM, perhaps?)
Zemanta Pixie
Post a Comment