The FCC may waive, change or drop its rule prohibiting the satellite radio companies from merging and is asking for public comment on the issue.
In a Notice of Proposed Rule Making, the commission said that in 1997 the language authorizing satellite radio said that one satellite digital radio licensee “will not be permitted to acquire control” of the other licensee “to help ensure sufficient continuing competition” in the satellite digital radio space.
When XM and Sirius filed their documents seeking a favorable commission review of their merger, they stated that the language is a policy statement, not a binding commission rule, because it was never codified in the Code of Federal Regulations.
They want the rule to be waived, changed or eliminated in order for their merger to be approved.
The FCC is asking whether doing those things would serve the public interest.
“NAB is pleased the FCC is asking tough questions about this proposed government sanctioned monopoly,” said NAB Executive VP Dennis Wharton in a statement. “We’re hopeful that in the final analysis, regulators will conclude that competition serves consumers better than a monopoly, particularly when XM and Sirius have said repeatedly that they are not failing businesses.”
Comments to MB Docket No. 07-57 are due to the FCC 30 days after the notice is published in the Federal Register.