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FCC Needs Input to Decide Sirius XM Set-Aside Procedures

Leasing was part of merger conditions. How do you decide who gets it — and how to measure it?

March 30 is the latest deadline the FCC has set for deciding details of who gets to program the Sirius XM spectrum to be set aside for minority and other third-party programming. The leasing of 4% of its spectrum to qualified third-parties — working out to six channels on both the Sirius and XM platforms — was a condition of the merger.

The commission has set other dates to work out details but says it needs more time. Specifically, it’s seeking public comment on what would constitute a qualified third-party to lease the spectrum, the technical and financial qualifications of lessees and whether or not Sirius XM should be involved in the selection process as well as who should make the selection. Questions the commission would like commenters to touch on include whether capacity should be allocated in bit rates, bandwidth or channels, and should lessees be selected by first-come, first-served basis or by lottery or another way.

The previous deadline to submit comments to MB Docket 07-57 on the issue was Feb. 27. Sirius XM has a new deadline of May 29 to comply with whatever the FCC decides on the issue.