Radio Stations Take Aim at XM/Sirius Merger

As the Federal Communications Commission continues its consideration of the pending merger between XM and Sirius, traditional radio outlets came out in force at the Portals with their concerns about the deal.

Radio conglomerate Clear Channel Communications proposed a set of conditions for the transaction in a filing the company sent to the FCC earlier this week. Among the proposals from Clear Channel was a requirement that a merged XM/Sirius entity be subject to the commission's broadcast decency rules.

Traditional radio faces a threat of losing advertising revenue if satellite radio siphons "edgy" content for its services, the company said. "That potential harm is mitigated if broadcast decency rules were to apply to the merged entity," Clear Channel told the FCC, adding that there is "no constitutional bar" for such a condition.

In addition, Clear Channel suggested that a merged satellite radio company should be required to lease satellite capacity to a third party that controls programming delivered via the leased channels. And the company said a combined XM/Sirius should set aside 5 percent of capacity for public interest programming.

Also, Clear Channel said a merged company should face requirements to integrate HD radio reception capability into all satellite radio receivers. "Absent such a condition, the merged XM-Sirius will have the incentive and capability, through its dominant market position, to engage in anti-competitive behavior by locking up exclusive agreements with automobile manufacturers, thereby impeding dramatically the growth of HD radio," the company said.

Along with Clear Channel, radio station owner Entercom approached FCC officials during the week about the merger. The company said it told agency staff that a combined XM/Sirius entity would have anti-competitive impacts, especially on the radio broadcast business.