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PK Testifies on XM-Sirius Merger

February 28, 2007 ,

Gigi is scheduled to testify later today before the House Judiciary Committee's Antitrust Task force on the proposed merger of satellite radio companies XM and Sirius.

We believe the merger could be approved if conditions are attached to the deal to protect consumers.

In her written statement to the Task Force Gigi did not take a position on whether the merger would pass antitrust scrutiny, but said if it did, then the deal should be approved only if it is subject three conditions:

  • the new company makes available pricing choices such as a la carte or tiered programming.

  • the new company makes 5% of its capacity available to non-commercial educational and informational programming over which it has no editorial control.

  • the new company agrees not to raise prices for three years after the merger is approved.

In addition, Gigi said that the rights of consumers to record and store music from the satellite services should be protected. Public Knowledge would oppose “any merger condition involving any limitations on the ability of consumers to record these satellite radio services. Such a condition would be tantamount to repealing the Audio Home Recording Act, which specifically protects a consumer's ability to record digital music,” she said in her written testimony.

Gigi also said Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should allow satellite radio broadcasters to offer more local programming. They are now restricted from doing so, in large part due to opposition from local broadcasters. She criticized the broadcasters and their trade group, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) for opposing the merger at a time when the broadcast industry is seeking further consolidations.

The full written testimony is available here and Gigi's oral testimony is available here.