Now that the SIrius-XM Radio combo looks like a fait accompli, the anti-merger lobby is taking its last whack at trying to hobble the company-to-be.
10 state attorneys general signed a letter to Chairman Kevin Martin, asking for the standard wish list: the ability to pay for only the channels you want, known as “a la carte pricing,” demand that the companies’ receivers be interoperable, and to give back some of airwaves the two companies use now.
On the first point, Sirius and XM are already in talks with the FCC on a number of “a la carte” pricing proposals, which mostly involve picking a package of 50 or 100 channels, or choosing pre-sorted packages like “mostly music” or “family friendly.”
The second request seems moot, too since both Sirius (SIRI) and XM (XMSR) have said they would continue to operate both satellite platforms and support both types of radios, at least in the near-term. Since the two systems aren’t compatible, they’ll have to run parallel services for a couple of years, minimum.
Most curious is the third request. The state AGs want the FCC to force SIRI-XM to give back spectrum so that a competing firm could, theoretically, launch its own satellites and start broadcasting. Given the hideous financial track record of the two existing players, just who are they wishing that upon? Perhaps Clear Channel, which asked for the same condition earlier this week.
Here’s a question: If having two competing satellite broadcasters was so crucial to the AGs’ citizens, how come the two have such tiny subscriber bases?