FCC Needs More Time to Figure Out Channel Lease Details

Martin explains extension to Sirius XM deadline.
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Martin explains extension to Sirius XM deadline.

At this week's briefing, Chairman Martin clarified what was behind a commission decision to extend the deadline for Sirius XM to lease 4% each of the channels of the Sirius and XM platforms to third parties — specifically to minorities and public interest groups.

The leases were among the voluntary commitments Sirius and XM made to get agency approval of their merger. However, in the merger order, the FCC noted that several parties had questioned how those leases would be allocated and the mechanics of administering the leases. (In other words, they wanted the commission to oversee Sirius and XM's decision on this issue.)

Martin said the FCC needed more time to evaluate proposals for allocating the channels. "We extended the deadline because there wasn't enough information to help the commission determine how to proceed," he said.

The original deadline to implement the leases was Nov. 28. Now it's Feb. 27.

On a related note, one of the items the chairman hopes his colleagues will vote on at the Dec. 18 open meeting is a way to provide more interference protection to Wireless Communications Services and SDARS spectrum where they meet in the 2305–2360 MHz band. He described the proposal as establishing a regulatory framework that puts in place more out-of-band emission interference protection limits for both services. It's tentatively on the agenda for a vote.