Boucher Offers Support for XM/Sirius Merger

The pending XM/Sirius merger won support from a key lawmaker on Capitol Hill Tuesday, with Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) saying the proposed satellite radio combination will lead to significant consumer benefits.

Boucher's endorsement of the deal came a day after the Justice Department's antitrust division closed its investigation of the merger, a move that allows the companies to clear a significant hurdle for winning regulatory support for their transaction. In a statement, Boucher said the department "appropriately defined the relevant market for competitive purposes as the entire marketplace for audio entertainment, including terrestrial radio, internet radio, and consumer devices, such as iPods.

"In that broader market, the merged company will have limited ability to raise consumer prices," Boucher said.

He added, "Given the vibrancy of competition in the audio entertainment market and the substantial consumer benefits that will result, the merger is clearly in the public interest."

The deal still needs Federal Communications Commission approval. Boucher urged the FCC to complete its review of the XM and Sirius transaction "expeditiously and allow the two companies to proceed with their merger plans."

Boucher's support of the deal is in contrast to the opposition voiced by others on Capitol Hill Monday. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), chair of the House Telecommunications Subcommittee, and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), chair of the Senate Commerce Committee's antitrust subcommittee, blasted the Justice Department decision on the XM/Sirius merger.