The HD Digital Radio Alliance has chimed in to support Ibiquity Digital, saying that if the FCC approves a satellite merger, XM/Sirius should be required to include HD Radio in all future receivers, and exclusive deals with automakers, suppliers and retailers should be prohibited.
In a filing with the commission, the group says a merger would limit consumer choice and “at this point in its development, HD Radio cannot be considered a competitive alternative to satellite radio.”
The merger, it continued, would make it more difficult for HD-R to expand consumer choice.
While “substantial resources” have been devoted to marketing HD-R, many obstacles must be overcome before it achieves widespread consumer adoption, says the group.
“In particular, the availability of HD Radio as a factory-installed (or even factory-authorized) option in automobiles is very limited. As it stands now, there are just two OEMs that currently offer HD Radio as a factory-installed option, and four others that have announced plans.”
The alliance continued: “In contrast, 17 OEMs offer Sirius exclusively, 18 offer XM exclusively and six offer both … i.e., 41 major auto and motorcycle manufacturers offer factory-installed satellite service, an overwhelming majority of the market.”
In addition, a combined satellite radio entity would have “an unprecedented” amount of spectrum, whereas the amount available to terrestrial broadcasters is capped by regulation at levels “well below” what it would take to match the combined company’s allotment. That’s true even with the addition of HD2 channels, available only to the “very few” customers who have an HD Radio, it said.
“This inequality of spectrum … could make it almost impossible to persuade the automobile OEMs to find a secure place in the dashboard for HD Radio.”