Public Knowledge Asks for Conditions on XM-Sirius Merger

For Immediate Release
Contact: Art Brodsky, 202-518-0020 (o), 301-908-7715 (c), abrodsky@publicknowledge.org

The merger between satellite radio companies XM and Sirius could be approved if conditions are attached to the deal to protect consumers, Public Knowledge President Gigi B. Sohn told a House of Representatives hearing today.

In written testimony to the Antitrust Task Force of the House Judiciary Committee, Sohn 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, Sohn 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," Sohn said in her written testimony.

Sohn 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. Sohn 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 a transcript of Gigi Sohn's oral testimony is available here.


Public Knowledge is a public-interest advocacy and education organization that seeks to promote a balanced approach to intellectual property law and technology policy that reflects the "cultural bargain" intended by the framers of the constitution. More information available at: http://www.publicknowledge.org

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