XM, Sirius Take A La Carte Ideas to Portals

Last week, representatives from XM and Sirius met with officials at the Federal Communications Commission, including FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, about their pending merger.

According to a filing describing the meetings, items discussed at the Portals included last week's decision by the Justice Department to clear the merger and a request from the companies that the commission quickly approve the transaction. The companies also outlined what possible programming packages, including a la carte offerings, could look like after a combination of the satellite radio companies.

Both XM and Sirius endorsed the a la carte concept early in their merger efforts. According to the companies' FCC filing, the a la carte proposals included an offering of 50 channels from one satellite radio platform, as picked by a customer, that would start at a price point of $6.99. A customer can add a channel for 25 cents, or add a premium offering for $5 under the ideas floated by the companies last week.

A second a la carte package proposal with 100 channels, again selected by the customer, would sell for $12.95, and could include a mix of channels from the two respective services under a "best of" scenario, stated the filing.

There also are separate "Sirius Everything" and "XM Everything" packages listed in the FCC filing with channels from the respective services. The everything packages could sell for $12.95 for each service, and would offer 130 channels from Sirius or 170 audio streams from XM, stated the filing.

The packaging proposals outlined by the companies also included family-friendly, music-centric, and news, sports and talk offerings.

Meanwhile, the Media Access Project approached the FCC last week about the merger, suggesting the deal could be harmful to the public interest. Nonetheless, the advocacy group said if the agency approves the transaction, conditions should be attached, such as a set-aside mandate for non-commercial educational programming or a requirement that a combined satellite radio company lease capacity to unaffiliated commercial programmers.