Dorgan Blasts XM/Sirius Merger

A key lawmaker has weighed in with his opinion on the pending merger between XM and Sirius.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., recently wrote Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin on the proposed satellite radio company transaction, saying that with a combination of XM and Sirius "not only will prices rise, but diversity and quality of content will deteriorate."

He added, "When the satellite companies no longer compete with one another, there will be no direct competition with the ability to regulate the cost of satellite radio service."

In his letter to Martin, Dorgan criticized the Justice Department's antitrust clearance of the satellite radio merger, saying that decision "reveals the department's disregard for the public interest and unwillingness to enforce antitrust law."

The Justice Department's antitrust unit cleared the deal last month. The FCC is the final regulatory hurdle for the merger.

"I understand that it would be unusual for the FCC to deny such a transaction after the Department of Justice has given its stamp of approval," Dorgan said. "But I encourage the FCC to take a better look at the facts and not follow the illogical course of the DOJ."

The senator also took exception with claims that a merger is needed to keep the companies in business. "Even if the companies were failing, they should not be rewarded with a government-granted monopoly," he said in the letter.

Dorgan asked the FCC to deny the proposed merger.