FCC Commissioner insists on Public Interest in Satellite Radio Merger
Posted on July 22, 2008 at 8:00 am
FCC Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein, who will be casting the deciding vote in the proposed merger of satellite radio stations Sirius and XM, has been opposed to the merger in the past, but has agreed to vote in favor with some important conditions. The companies must agree to a six-year price cap and make one-quarter of their satellite capacity available for public interest and minority programming. The Associated Press reports that Adelstein commented, “It’s critical that if we’re going to allow a monopoly, that we put in adequate consumer protections and make sure they’re enforced.” AP reports that:
The companies have faced a tough challenge in gaining approval because the FCC, in creating the satellite radio industry in 1997, prohibited the only two licensees from merging. In an effort to prove the combination is in the public interest, lawyers for the companies volunteered to submit to a number of conditions, including a three-year price cap, a time frame Adelstein would like to see doubled….Adelstein is seeking 25 percent of the companies’ satellite capacity for public interest programming — 10 percent for noncommercial programming and 15 percent for minority programming. That potentially would work out to about 75 channels.
Adelstein is also asking for additional changes to encourage competition and public interest programming and an enforcement scheme instead of the voluntary approach currently proposed.
Those who want to comment on the merger or on Adelstein’s proposal can do so on the FCC’s website.