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March 27, 2008
AG McKenna joins states in urging FCC probe of Sirius-XM Radio merger

OLYMPIA – Attorney General Rob McKenna announced that he and 10 other attorneys general sent a letter today to the Federal Communications Commission urging greater protections for consumers  in the proposed merger of satellite giants Sirius and XM.

“The proposed merger of Sirius and XM would result in a single corporation controlling the entire satellite radio market,” McKenna said. “The Federal Communications Commission needs to ensure that there is room for new broadcasters and existing land-based stations to compete. The states are urging the FCC to consider restrictions to preserve competition and protect consumers.”

The attorneys general told FCC Chairman Kevin Martin that they are disappointed with the U.S. Department of Justice’s decision to permit the merger to proceed without conditions.

"The combination of these companies will result in a single corporation controlling access to all nationally available satellite radio,” the letter states.

The attorneys general urged the FCC to consider potential conditions to protect competition, such as:

  • Requiring the companies to market a receiver that would allow consumers to listen to any new satellite service.
  • Requiring “a la carte” pricing to let listeners choose among program options instead of paying full price for all channels.
  • Ordering divestiture of some spectrum, or broadcast frequency, to another company.

XM and Sirius reached the agreement in February 2007. DOJ decided Monday to close its investigation of the merger after not finding a significant level of competition between the companies. The FCC must now determine if the XM-Sirius deal is in the public interest and whether to enforce its 1997 order barring either satellite radio company from acquiring the other.

The letter was signed by the attorney generals of Connecticut, Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Maryland, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Utah and Washington.

Letter to FCC re: Sirus-XM Radio Merger

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Media Contact: Kristin Alexander, Media Relations Manager, (206) 464-6432

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