Making another appearance in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday morning (April 17) regarding the proposed merger of his company, Sirius Satellite Radio and competitor XM Satellite Radio, Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin this time appeared before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation.

Reiterating many of the same points he's made at recent congressional appearances regarding the merger, Karmazin's main points again centered on what Sirius and XM believe are benefits for consumers resulting from the proposed merger and the extensive competition that they believe satellite radio faces from a wide range of players in the audio entertainment market.

On the consumer front, Karmazin, with XM chairman Gary Parsons by his side, said, "The key to getting more subscribers will not be to widen the price gap between free and what satellite radio charges. Instead, it will be to offer consumers a better value. The merger will allow us to lower prices. Consumers who want fewer channels than currently offered will be able to select one or more packages of channels for less than $12.95 per month. Importantly, significant portions of the savings achieved through the merger will be shared with customers immediately and in the long-term through lower prices and improved service offerings.

Regarding competition, he added, "The market for audio entertainment in the United States is robustly competitive and rapidly evolving. Sirius and XM must compete directly and intensely with a host of other audio providers for consumer attention."

NAB radio board vice chairman Russ Withers, who also owns Withers Broadcasting Companies, also testified before the Senate committee and offered this:

"I can understand why XM and Sirius would want a monopoly, but that does not mean it is in the public interest. XM and Sirius, by their own admission, are not failing companies. Their current highly leveraged position is due to extraordinary fees paid for marketing and on-air talent, including the $500 million contract that Sirius awarded to Howard Stern and the $83 million dollar bonus paid to him just last year. But even with these costs, XM and Sirius have made clear they can succeed without a merger."

"For these reasons and others," Withers concluded, "local broadcasters strongly oppose a government-sanctioned monopoly for satellite radio."

U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, also opposes the merger and made this statement:

"The proposed merger between XM and Sirius satellite radio companies cannot possibly be in the interest of American consumers.

"A decade ago, two licenses were issued, one to XM and one to Sirius, to provide competing national satellite radio service. Included in their license approval was a clause that prohibits the two companies from merging into one company.

"Now, a decade later, the two companies are seeking permission from the federal government to merge.

"I oppose the merger. It will eliminate the competition that exists between the two separate companies and it will injure consumers. This isn't even a close call.

"I am concerned about the increased concentration of ownership in virtually every area of broadcasting and information including radio, television and newspapers.

"To believe that it is in the public interest to allow a merger of the only two satellite radio companies defies all common sense. The marketplace works when there are competitive forces that require competitors to compete in price and service.

"The proposed merger of XM and Sirius would destroy the incentives that come from that competition and would, in my opinion, inevitably harm consumers."

While Congressional lawmakers do not have the authority to block mergers, to win merger approval Sirius and XM need to get the FCC to waive the regulation regarding there being two separate satellite company licenses, plus they must convince the Justice Department, among other things, that subscription prices would not be raised.