Tuesday, March 25, 2008

NO STATIC AT ALL: XM, SIRIUS SATELLITE RADIO GET OK TO MERGE


Hoping to tune in Howard Stern on your XM radio? Wishing Oprah & Friends radio came in on Sirius Satellite Radio?

Looks like the superstars of both pay-radio services soon will be able to romp on each other's playground, as the long-anticipated merger of XM and Sirius satellite radio comes to pass.

Yesterday, the U.S. Justice Department approved the union of the two pay-radio operations, removing a major legal road block. Further approval by the Federal Communications Commission is expected, said industry analysts, which would allow the $5 billion merger to take place.

"It's very rare that the FCC would have a contradictory ruling," RBC Capitol Markets analyst David Bank commented yesterday. He said approval could be "in days or the next quarter. My sense is that FCC is going to move relatively quickly."

Late last week, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin told reporters that he had asked staffers to begin drafting a variety of orders on the merger, spelling out "content options" he'll want fulfilled before approving the deal.

It's likely that he'll hold the sat-radio guys to their promise of delivering "a la carte" programming in a merged system -in which customers will be able to subscribe to, say, just family-oriented content or a tier of all-talk and sports channels for a lower monthly fee.

"We think a la carte is the ultimate consumer benefit because it gives consumers the choice," Sirius chief Mel Karmazin reiterated last week. In recent years Martin has dogged cable-TV companies, especially Comcast, for refusing to offer more a la carte options.

CLICK HERE 2 READ MORE