Wisconsin AG Fights Sat Radio Merger

Calling the transaction anti-competitive and anti-consumer, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen asked the Federal Communications Commission to block the pending merger between XM and Sirius.

Van Hollen is the latest state attorney general to weigh in on the merger, which remains at the FCC for final regulatory approval. In a letter sent to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin this week, Van Hollen said a combination of satellite radio companies "would eliminate competition in the satellite radio industry, and the combined XM/Sirius company would be free to raise prices, stifle innovation and reduce program diversity."

He added that a satellite radio merger would result "in a single corporation controlling access to all nationally available satellite radio." And Van Hollen said the U.S. Justice Department's antitrust clearance of the XM/Sirius deal "puts the burden on the FCC to take into account a broader public interest standard."

The Justice Department approved the transaction on March 24. Van Hollen wrote a letter back in September asking the department to block the merger.

In his FCC letter, Van Hollen said the "alternate format that offers similar services, broadcast radio, is no substitute for satellite radio. Satellite radio is unique and customers are unlikely to switch formats because of its content and coverage."

Van Hollen's letter to Martin follows a similar correspondence sent by attorneys general from 11 other states that voiced concern about the pending satellite radio merger. That joint letter sent to the FCC opposing the deal came from attorneys general in Ohio, Missouri, Connecticut, Nevada, Iowa, Oklahoma, Maryland, Rhode Island, Mississippi, Utah and Washington.