FCC Setting Conditions For XM-Sirius Merger (Finally)

from the what-took-so-long? dept

It's not clear exactly what Kevin Marin and the FCC have been doing over the last year and a half since XM and Sirius announced plans to merge. The Justice Department gave its approval of the deal back in March. That had already taken over a year, and then everyone turned to the FCC to get its approval. From the length of time it took, perhaps the FCC had just figured that the DoJ wasn't going to approve the merger, and had to scramble to figure out the details before granting (or not) its own approval. FCC boss Kevin Martin has now sent around to the other commissioners his recommended concessions to approve the merger, and it includes things like a temporary ban on raising prices (for a few years) as well as requirements for some channels to be turned over to noncommercial and minority programming. While XM and Sirius eagerly agreed to these concessions (after all this time, they just want the damn thing to be over), other commissioners may try to impose additional requirements as well -- so this might not be over just yet.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Ima Fish, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 12:52pm

    a temporary ban on raising prices (for a few years)

    Sure they won't raise their prices. But they'll be free to nickel and dime users with hidden fees.

     

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  2.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 1:03pm

    Re:

    Easy answer to that. Go listen to something else. There are plenty of other things to listen to. You could listen you your local FM/AM radio station, iPod, CD player, or even the wind. XM/Sirius douse not have a monopoly.

     

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  3.  
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    jhunter, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 1:13pm

    Why is this such a big deal?

    I don't understand what the big deal is? I don't believe it is a monopoly (it competes against free radio, cds, ipods etc), but even if it were what does a monopoly on a luxury item matter? If they charge to much drop your subscription! This isn't like the water company.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 1:37pm

    "FCC boss Kevin Martin has now sent around to the other commissioners his recommended concessions to approve the merger, and it includes things like a temporary ban on raising prices (for a few years) as well as requirements for some channels to be turned over to noncommercial and minority programming."

    Shouldn't the people who pay the bill decide on the programming choices?

     

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  5.  
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    some old guy, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 1:38pm

    jhunters got it nailed

    That fact, in and of itself is why sat radio is having such a hard time. It is nothing more than a luxury item that noone needs, and very few think is worth paying for. It is absolutely not a monopoly, as there is no inherent need being fulfilled for it to control.

    Do you know anyone at all who has sat radio? It's been around for like what.. 8 years now? I still dont know one person with it, nor do I know anyone even remotely interested.

     

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  6.  
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    Derek (profile), Jun 16th, 2008 @ 1:51pm

    I use XM

    some old guy: I have been using XM radio in my car for 3 years, and on my in home receiver for 2 years. After using XM radio, I honestly would never go back to normal radio because of all the annoying crap they put on. I am a big fan of music, and travel the country a lot, so having good, clear radio stations. (Especially without the annoying idiot DJ's that talk about what they did last night) I never have to put up with static, and never have to try to find a radio station that plays the music I like. And just so this does not sound like an AD for xm radio, I get sick of a lot of the XM channels because they play the same stuff over and over. It's also annoying that XM only shows some of the song title, mildly annoying.

    I do agree that it is a luxury and not a monopoly.

     

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  7.  
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    Bill W, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 1:52pm

    Re: jhunters got it nailed

    I would agree with you that it could be classed as a "luxury" item but I disagree with "noone needs [it]"

    Long distance drivers are my guess at those who use it the most and I know my wife and I use XM a lot even in our small Northeastern state. Could they (or especially, we) do without it? Sure. But it is very nice to have if you can afford it. I even listen at work through a receiver (USB connected) or through the Internet.

    But it absolutely IS NOT a monopoly, that we do agree on for sure.

     

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  8.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 1:54pm

    Re: jhunters got it nailed

    I have it, my sister has it, her boyfriend has it, all four of my parents have it, multiple coworkers have it, a buddy of mine from across the state wants it but can't afford it with school. Last number I heard was over 15mill people had sat.

    Can you tell I want this merger to happen?

     

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  9.  
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    Teilo, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 1:55pm

    non-commercial and minority

    That's not exactly a "concession" since XM at least (which is what I have) already has a a lot of ethnic and non-commercial channels. To start: Viva, Aguila, Caricia, Caliente, XM Deportivo, The Power, CNN en EspaƱol, ATN - Asian Radio. Now, I suppose they could fudge it a bit and consider reggae and hip-hop minority, and then add in the french stations. That brings the total up to 19. CSPAN, PBS, and ReachMD are non-commercial. That's 22. I'm sure Sirius has some things in this category that do not overlap and would bring the total up.

    Come to think of it, what do they mean by non-commercial anyway? The only advertising on the "XM" stations (music, sonic theater, old time radio, etc.) is for other XM stations, their website, etc.

     

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  10.  
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    None of, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 2:01pm

    Delay

    Maybe it took so long precisely *because* the companies would be more willing to accept some concessions -- "after all this time, they just want the damn thing to be over".

    Or wanting to, but not seeing any reasonable grounds to, forbid the merger, the FCC deliberately dragged its feet purely to delay it.

     

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  11.  
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    drawde, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 2:13pm

    WTF - What's the delay??!

    They have no monopoly as broadcasters; the DoJ wasn't even needed to decide that - its just common sense.

    BTW - What is AM radio? Wasn't that something from the 19th century? ...and FM wasn't that from the 20th?? Since its initial broadcast I've been XM and could care less about AM/FM or that RDS B.S. personally; I'm with the times, not stuck in the past.

     

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  12.  
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    Skout, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 2:55pm

    "Shouldn't the people who pay the bill decide on the programming choices?"

    You would think so, but my guess is, that's exactly why everyone has dragged their feet on this. The FCC is far too used to being in control of what gets said, shown, or aired, and a model where the customer gets to choose that is simply irrational (or worse - irritating) to them.

    As for "some old guy": there's millions of us. Just because you aren't interested doesn't make the medium itself disinteresting. I wonder if you still use rabbit ears.

     

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  13.  
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    bobbknight, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 3:03pm

    Merger

    I did not find Sat Rad to be much use to me, if I drove more it might be of more use to me.
    When I want music on the road, I turn on my mp3 player and listen to what I like.
    The trouble from what I see is the music industry crippled SatRad devices and this has limited they're usefulness to me for the cost of the service.

     

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  14.  
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    Annie, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 3:08pm

    XM Radio is Awesome . . .

    I think the commissioners should regulate the possibility of commercializing the stations. I love the NO COMMERCIALS. I love the variety of stations. Some days I am a little country and other days I am a little rock n roll. I love my XM. For those of you who think it is a luxury, once you have gone XM you will never go back . . . ever!

     

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  15.  
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    Jimmer, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 3:47pm

    noncommercial and minority programming....

    That's the Jessie Jackson shakedown clause! "Give me what I want and I'll go away quietly."

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 4:00pm

    Re: jhunters got it nailed

    You know a random commenter on the internet that has it now. I got it for christmas and got a deal for $7 a month on XM, and I love it. I got others in my family hooked on it now too, a couple buying it in their cars these past few months. I hear an ad on the radio and I cringe and shut it off.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 5:40pm

    Re: jhunters got it nailed

    Assuming you own and drive a car, look for the little antennae on the front or rear roof line of an automobile while you're sitting in traffic. You may not know us personally, but there are plenty of us out there.

     

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  18.  
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    Darren, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 7:48pm

    XM/Sirius - the merger needs to go through. Both have great programming - for those who say they don't have it or listen to it because of free radio - take a listen you'll be hooked in a minute - no commercials - worth every penny!

     

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  19.  
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    Michael, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 5:12am

    XM / Sirius Merger

    No one owns space! Anyone w/ capital can launch satelites. It's just CONTROL BY GOVERNMENT where none is needed.

     

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  20.  
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    trunker, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 6:58am

    Space

    NO "anyone with capital can launch..." WRONG! The FAA and some other agencies are going to have some say in just who gets to launch stuff into space.

    Along with various international treaties on frequency co-ordination, and US rules from the FCC on available frequencies for space to ground radio service aka satelitte radio.

    So just cause you have $$$ don't mean you get to shoot off your rockets at will... $$$ helps, A LOT, but theres still going to be a lot of red tape to slog thru.

     

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  21.  
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    Ken, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 9:57am

    Re: Space

    "WRONG! The FAA and some other agencies are going to have some say in just who gets to launch stuff into space." ....

    Uhh, yeah, that most definitely falls under the "CONTROL BY GOVERNMENT where none is needed" part of the comment you reply to. If we truly had a free market (Read: the US does *not* have a free market), than anybody with the $ could put up a sat and start a competing service..

    There is no such thing as a monopoly in a free market, anything we have now that could even be close to being considered a monopoly is such solely because of govt. regulations.

     

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  22.  
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    Search Marketing Center, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 6:30am

    Cool

    I have 5 xm radio's in my house, and I've grown tired of XM stagnant programing, albeit the lack of commercials are a blessing, but it wasn't until i started listening to Sirius that I was amazed. I can't wait for the merger and the combined might of the two stations. The FCC should respect the judicial dept, and just agree to this already.

     

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  23.  
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    CptBeej, Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 1:20pm

    Concessions????

    Why do there need to be any concessions. I agree the only reason they were offered by XM/Sirius in the first place is they are so sick of waiting for this process to be over. Almost 2 yrs to decide on a merger, are you kidding me...oil companies have merged in about 1/5 the time. But why worry about oil companies...its not like that stuff is important or anything. No, we need to make sure minorities have extra channels on satellite radio. We don't have time to worry about $4/gal gas that effects each and every person almost everyday, not while there is a possibility that roughly 6% of Americans(who obviously have disposable income) may have to spend an extra $36 a year. This whole process has done nothing but highlight the corruption of the gov't. Free radio has lined the pockets of anyone who has listened...and since there was never any ground to deny this merger in the first place...they just delayed everything as much as they could. The whole thing makes me sick...and don't even get me started on the Jesse Jackson shakedown. ALL I WANT IS TO BE ABLE TO LISTEN TO NFL, MLB, AND HOWARD STERN ON ONE RADIO...is that so much to ask?

     

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  24.  
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    ffay, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 10:31am

    Re: Merger

    SatRad is much more than music, if you love sports it a god send. Not sure what you mean by music industry crippled SatRad, I can programming including music on my SatRad

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Jerry, Jul 1st, 2008 @ 11:56am

    Re:

    You aren't much in the way of being up to date on the issues are you?

    How many channels do you listen to now? More tha 50. I doubt it. If you think the price is to high than go back to am/fm. It's as simple as that for as much you know about the entire merger.

    Or perhaps you have NAB ties.

     

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  26.  
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    Loyal XM'r, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 5:41am

    FCC

    I truly belive the hold up is what the FCC wants in reguards to "control". They hate the fact that Sirius & XM have "Adult" channels and programs where pretty much anything goes. THIS IS WHY I PAY FOR IT! Take that away, and just like terestrial radio, and cable tv, they will kill everything in the name of "PC" / Chuch friendly BS! Leave them alone, let them merge, and keep your dam greedy hands out of the programing choices and content!

     

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