More Noise on XM/Sirius Deal

More debate about the pending satellite radio merger took place late last week at the Federal Communications Commission, with both sides weighing in with their opinions about the deal.

XM and Sirius continue to wait for the merger's final hurdle - FCC approval of their combination. According to a filing at the agency, representatives from both companies met with FCC Chairman Kevin Martin about the deal last week, asking for prompt approval of their transaction. Specifics about what was discussed at the meeting were not detailed in the filing.

Meanwhile, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) last week wrote Martin and the commission about the merger, saying the deal would not be in the public interest and that he had "serious concerns remain as to how this merger will impact consumers if it is permitted to go forward."

Kerry added, "To the extent that this merger would permit the only two entities authorized to provide satellite radio service in the United States to merge, it would seem to directly contradict the intent of the commission in establishing this service."

Also, representatives from the Consumer Coalition for Competition in Satellite Radio approached FCC staff about the merger, including the deal's recent approval from the Justice Department's antitrust division.

In its comments, the coalition said the DOJ approval "failed to give proper weight to the substantial evidence of direct competition between Sirius and XM." The Justice Department cleared the XM/Sirius merger on March 24.

The coalition added, "Competition between XM and Sirius is the very reason why neither entity has unilaterally increased prices or commercial time, so the FCC should not disregard the harms to consumers that will result from the proposed merger. Competition is the only protection against increases in prices and increases in commercial time on satellite radio."