Wed, Jul 25th 2007 7:44pm
While comments filed with the FCC in support of the merger of satellite radio companies XM and Sirius outnumber those opposing it by nearly a four to one margin, they're not seen by many people to carry the same influence as those arguing against the merger. For instance, more than 70 Congressmen have told the heads of the FCC, DOJ and FTC that they should block the merger, and as stock pundit Jim Cramer points out, this has little to do with anything other than legislators' self-interest, since they don't want to upset local broadcasters in their constituencies. He adds that since XM and Sirius are up against such powerful opposition, they've had to go for broke, by announcing pricing plans that, if the merger's approved, could slice their average per-subscriber revenue. The plans offer consumers the ability to choose channels on an a la carte basis -- a move that looks like it's designed to appeal to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, for whom indecent programming is always an issue. At the outset of the merger announcement, Martin said that XM and Sirius would have to show that "consumers would clearly be better off with both more choice and affordable prices" before the FCC would approve the deal. These new plans would appear to deliver consumers more choices and control over the content they receive, and do so at lower prices. But it's still hard to see that being enough to overcome politicians' objections, fueled by the National Association of Broadcasters' clout.
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