Dingell, Markey Call for Conditions on Sat Radio Merger

More lawmakers wrote Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin about the proposed merger between XM and Sirius, calling for conditions on the deal before any green light is given to the companies to combine operations.

A letter written by John Dingell, the Michigan Democrat and chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Ed Markey of Massachusetts, chair of the House Telecom Subcommittee, made no suggestions one way or another about their feelings on the pending satellite radio combination. "We are not taking a position at this time on whether the commission should approve the merger," they said.

Instead, "If the commission decides to approve the license transfer, we believe the public interest requires it to take concrete steps to protect consumers," stated the letter sent this week to Martin.

Both Dingell and Markey said the FCC should require a merged satellite radio entity to adhere to pricing constraints that XM and Sirius have proposed to regulators. "Such a condition would ensure that a combined entity does not take advantage of consumers by leveraging its position as sole provider of satellite radio services by raising prices," stated the letter.

Also, the lawmakers said the FCC should force a combined entity to incorporate other digital audio technology into their receivers, including HD Radio capabilities or an iPod port.

The FCC remains the only regulatory hurdle for the satellite radio companies to combine operations. In March, the Justice Department's antitrust staff cleared the merger.