The Federal Communications Commission said “yes” to Sirius XM’s request for Special Temporary Authority temporarily to operate 20 terrestrial repeaters for the satellite radio service in Puerto Rico.
The commission did so over the objections of radio broadcasters on the island who said the approval in essence expands the Sirius XM footprint outside its authorized coverage area and that the satcaster would compete with terrestrial broadcasters for listeners.
In rejecting those arguments, the commission said Sirius XM’s footprint already covers the island but the signal is weak and blocked by tall buildings and foliage. As for the impact on competition, the FCC said it has considered these arguments before and “declined to find that” satellite radio would harm local broadcasters.
The commission granted the STA because it said it’s in the public interest to allow the satcaster to enhance reliability of its service to listeners in Puerto Rico. The STA is for 180 days.
Expanding service to U.S. territories where technically feasible and economically reasonable was one of things the FCC encouraged the satcaster to do as a condition of approving the merger between Sirius and XM. The agency still has no rules governing terrestrial repeaters for satellite radio so Sirius XM operates all of them under STAs. Right now, neither Sirius nor XM operate repeaters outside the 48 contiguous U.S.