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FCC Wants Your Comments About Sirius XM Prices

Agency asks whether cap should be extended, changed or dropped

The FCC has opened for public comment the issue of whether Sirius XM’s price cap should change. Comments to MB Docket 07-57 are due Feb. 24.

We reported earlier that the company wants its agreement to expire in July as scheduled, without the FCC raising or changing the cap, which was a condition of the agency’s approval of the satellite radio merger in 2008. The cap is $12.95 per month.

Sirius XM says it faces a lot more competition in the vehicle than it did then. The company mentioned HD Radio and iPhone/iPod connectivity to the dash as examples. Now the Media Bureau seeks comment on whether to extend, modify or remove the limit. It said that when it approved the merger, it couldn’t predict what the competitive landscape for satellite radio would be in three years.

The FCC asks whether a price limit is still in the public interest or if the public would be better served if the cap were extended, modified or dropped. If the cap is extended, the commission asks for how long; if the cap is raised, the commission asks how price should be determined.

The agency also asks whether the satcaster should be allowed to change its channel count under a modified price cap. Right now, Sirius XM cannot do so.

The commission states in its notice that Sirius XM has begun charging $2.99 a month for Internet radio access and changed the price for each additional monthly subscription above the $12.95 monthly basic subscription price from $6.99 to $8.99 a month. The agency asks whether any modified price cap should cover the charges for online access, additional subscriptions or other fees related to the satellite radio service.