Washington — The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) filed a petition today asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to delay its decision on the XM and Sirius merger.
The NAB requested “a reasonable opportunity” to review information it received about XM and Sirius FM modulators and/or repeaters that violated FCC regulations. Specifically, the NAB said it received information on this topic from a Freedom of Information Act request it filed on March 22 with the FCC, and that it is seeking time to prepare documents on the “apparent wrongdoing by XM and Sirius executive and senior-level employees regarding the operation of FM modulators/transmitters and/or terrestrial repeaters.”
The NAB said it asked the FCC to stop its formal 180-day time clock for deciding on the merger. If the NAB adhered to this time clock, it would reach a decision on the merger by early December.
The NAB stated, “Sirius has admitted requesting manufacturers to produce Sirius radios that operate beyond the interference regulations set by the FCC. In Sirius’s annual report (Form 10-K) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company disclosed on page 26 that ‘certain Sirius personnel requested manufacturers to produce Sirius radios that were not consistent with the FCC’s rules.’ In April, Bloomberg reported that at least one-third of the 800 antennas used by XM were ‘placed in unapproved locations or emitted signals that were too strong.’”
The FCC argued that in light of these actions, the merger may not be in the public interest. The FCC is reviewing the merger of XM and Sirius specifically to determine if that merger would be in the public interest.
The NAB petition to the FCC comes at a time when Wall Street analyst Citi Investments said momentum is building in favor of a Sirius-XM merger.
An FCC spokesman declined to comment on when the FCC might respond to the NAB petition.
“The NAB opposes the merger of XM and SIRIUS to protect AM/FM radio from competition, not to protect consumers. As more and more consumers voice their support for the merger, the more fearful of increased competition the NAB becomes and the more desperate their actions in response. The NAB’s allegations are unfounded and their recent filing is just an attempt to stall the process. We look forward to continuing to work with the FCC and are confident they will weigh the transaction on its merits, recognize that it is in the public interest and approve the merger by the end of the year.”