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Copps Votes Against XM-Sirius Merger

Washington — A Federal Communications Commission source confirmed that commissioner Michael Copps voted against the XM Satellite Radio-Sirius Satellite Radio merger proposal offered up by FCC chairman Kevin Martin.

That would bring the unofficial tally to two for the deal — Martin, who circulated the proposed merger approval with a number of conditions, and commissioner Robert McDowell, who reportedly also voted for Martin’s conditioned proposal — and Copps against.

Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein already proposed tougher conditions, so it is clear that he is not on board with the Martin plan as advertised, although he told B&C Monday that there was room to negotiate between his proposal and the chairman’s.

That leaves Republican Deborah Taylor Tate, who has declined to comment on where she stands on the deal, to break the stalemate, although it is also possible that a new proposal could be submitted for a vote if there is a middle ground between conditions proposed by Martin and those counterproposed by Adelstein.

The differences are large. Martin proposed a three-year moratorium on price hikes, but he would allow the companies to pass along increased programming costs. Adelstein wants a six-year moratorium and no programming-cost escalations.

The Martin proposal would set aside 12 channels of the combined company’s capacity for noncommercial use and leasing to outside programmers. Adelstein proposed setting aside 25% of capacity, 10% for noncommercial and 15% for leasing to commercial entities. Using a percentage figure would also allow that set-aside to increase as capacity increased.

Meanwhile, the companies have repeatedly put off a date for unwinding the deal absent regulatory approval as they await FCC action. The Department of Justice already gave it the green light, saying it raises no antitrust concerns that required conditions on the deal.

This story wasoriginally publishedin B&C, a sister publication of TWICE.