Georgetown: Third-Party Satellite Lease Should Include Transmitting Infrastructure

A lease is preferred over an outright transfer of spectrum because Georgetown estimates it would take some 5 to 7 years to create the transmission infrastructure that Sirius and XM now have.
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Georgetown Partners is becoming more detailed about conditions it believes the FCC should impose should the satellite radio merger get the okay.

The private equity firm has proposed that a third party — such as itself — receive a portion of spectrum now allocated to Sirius and XM if their merger is approved.

Georgetown does not believe the FCC should approve the merger without requiring compliance with specific conditions before the deal closes — because to do so would create a “total monopoly,” the group told the FCC Monday in a filing.

The firm wants regulators to approve a lease with a merged Sirius-XM for at least 20% “of their combined channel capacity and infrastructure” to an independent third party, such as Georgetown.

A lease is preferred over an outright transfer of spectrum because Georgetown estimates it would take some 5 to 7 years to create the transmission infrastructure that Sirius and XM now have.

The lease should include “current and future existing network infrastructure and related services to support use of uplink, satellite and related terrestrial capacity in the same manner as employed by the merged entity.”

As we’ve reported, Georgetown has proposed transmitting a free, advertiser-supported service available to all satellite receivers, an estimated 17 million, and even to satellite receivers that are “unsubscribed,” it now says, “even though the cost of the receivers is bundled into the price paid by consumers for their automobiles.”

It should be up to the merged satellite radio companies to make sure that all programming broadcast by the lease-holder can be received on all “radios and other receivers now in existence and to be distributed in the future, including receivers capable of video, audio, data and telemetry, in the same manner that each of the merged entity’s services are received.”

Ibiquity too has lobbied for denial of a satellite merger if certain conditions are not required — among them that the satcasters include HD Radio receive capability in satellite radio tuners.

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