FCC chairman Kevin Martin on Monday (June 16) said he will recommend to his four fellow commissioners approval of the Sirius Satellite Radio merger with XM Satellite Radio after executives at the two entities agreed to a series of conditions that Martin says will be a benefit to consumers. Martin's office says it will circulate his recommendation to the others as early as this week.
"As I have indicated before, this is an unusual situation. I am recommending that with the voluntary commitments they've offered, on balance, this transaction would be in the public interest," Martin said in a statement.
The FCC staff reports that the two companies have come forward and voluntarily committed to the following stipulations as part of the merger:
- Consumer benefits include price constraints, plus the promise not to raise rates for a minimum of 36 months after merger.
- Will offer smaller packages at lower prices.
- The companies have voluntarily committed and agreed to an open standard for manufacturing of radios. Anybody will be able to make and market the radios -- i.e. wire line telephones (off-the-shelf, retail radios).
- Newly available retailed radios to offer a la carte programming for both services within first three months after merger is approved.
- Interoperable radios within one year - compatible with both services.
- Parties have voluntarily committed to providing additional public interest channels up to 8% - 4 % noncommercial and 4% for those who have traditionally not been represented.
- Service will be offered in Puerto Rico after merger. Neither Sirius or XM currently offers the service.
The FCC says, "We have no indication on how the votes will go and whether this will be approved as proposed. This proposal will start the discussion on what the transaction will look like if approved."