Washington, DC & New York, NY (March 26, 2008)–The U.S. Department of Justice has notified XM Satellite Radio and SIRIUS Satellite Radio that it has ended its investigation into the proposed merger of the two companies and will take no action to block the transaction.
A company statement from XM reads, in part: “XM is pleased that after a thorough review, the DOJ agrees that the entertainment marketplace will remain highly competitive and robust after our merger.” The deal is still pending a decision from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). SIRIUS and XM each obtained stockholder approval in November 2007.
XM has assured customers that their existing satellite radio equipment will not need to be replaced as a result of the merger. The two companies have also unveiled an array of new programming options, including two first-of-their-kind ‡ la carte options where consumers can individually select the channels they wish to receive.
With FCC approval still pending, Clear Channel has filed a notice of ex parte detailing the conditions it would like to see imposed if the two satcasters are allowed to merge. Clear Channel remains firmly opposed to the merger, saying it would harm consumers and terrestrial radio and is against stated FCC policy. But if the merger does go through, it is asking for certain conditions that it says would “mitigate some of the harms to the public interest likely to flow from approval.”
First, to provide a “viable competitive alternative,” Clear Channel would like a combined XM-Sirius to give up at least 50 percent of its satellite capacity, through a lease or other means, to a third party that would have complete control of the programming. A combined satcaster should also, says Clear Channel, be subject to the broadcast decency rules. Clear Channel would also like the FCC to reaffirm that the combined XM-Sirius would be licensed only as a national service and to ban it from receiving local advertising revenues. Finally, Clear Channel echoes a condition requested earlier by iBiquity Corp., that the merged satcaster be required to build HD Radio capability into all of its receivers.
Clear Channel Communications, Inc.
Sirius Satellite Radio
XM Satellite Radio