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FCC Tightens Conditions On Sirius/XM Merger

Washington — The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) imposed tighter conditions on the merger of Sirius and XM, including the ability to extend a price freeze beyond three years.

In its formal announcement of the merger, the FCC also said interoperable radios that can receive either Sirius or XM service must be available to retailers in nine months, instead of one year.

The terms are more stringent than those offered by Sirius in June that called for a three-year price freeze and interoperable radios in one year.

Another new term called for an investigation into whether HD Radio service should be required to be included into satellite radios. The FCC said it will gather information on this possible requirement within 30 days of adopting the merger order.

Other conditions were similar to those offered by Sirius and XM to the FCC in June. They called for offering an a la carte choice in programming plus other new service plans within three months of the merger, and setting aside 8 percent of spectrum for educational programming and for other “qualified entities.”

The FCC called for the end of exclusive manufacturing rights to satellite radio, and it said the merged company should not bar certain other companies from producing satellite radios nor models that offer other technologies such as HD Radio and iPod compatibility. It also said the merged company will make available the intellectual property to produce satellite radios, the companies will deliver service through repeaters to Puerto Rico, and other stipulations.