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From Staff Reports
The Federal Communications Commission late Friday granted Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. (SIRI) approval to complete its $3.3 billion purchase of XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. (XMSR), ending a 16-month-long political drama and making it possible for the nascent business to start operating at a profit.
According to Reuters, and other news services, this merger saga has been closely watched both on Wall Street and inside the Beltway.
Ostensibly, the deal means that the aggregate subscriber base of more than 18 million will be able to receive programming from either service.
"I think this merger is in the public interest and will ultimately benefit consumers," FCC Chairman Kevin Martin told reporters.
FCC commissioners voted 3-2 to approve the merger, though also stipulating that the companies much meet a series of consumer-protection conditions. The companies must:
- Cap prices for three years.
- Pay $19.7 million for past FCC regulatory violations.
- And set aside 8% of their channel capacity for minority and non-commercial programming.
The companies also will have to make available to consumers radios that receive both Sirius and XM. As part of the order, the FCC also will conduct an inquiry into whether it should require that all satellite radios be built with technology that allows them to also receive so-called “HD” signals – the high definition terrestrial radio signals that are available when listening to some stations on the AM or FM bands.
According to the FCC’s Martin, the conditions imposed on the merger will make sure that customers will be able to listen to the best offerings from each service, and also will push for a low-priced programming package in which customers can choose from both services.
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