Key legislator attacks satcaster deal


US Rep Mike Doyle (D-PA), a key member of the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, has fired off a letter to AG Alberto Gonzales, FCC Chair Kevin Martin and FTC Chair Deborah Platt Majoras. His request: Put a stop to the proposed merger of XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio. Doyle is vice-chair of the committee, a wing of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

In his letter, he pointed out that the two companies were awarded licenses in the first place with the understanding that they were to compete with one another. He also took them to task for seemingly ignoring another stipulation, that they provide customers with interoperable receivers.

"I believe this disregard for the Commission's intentions and consumer interests should be a factor when assessing the promises these companies are making in pursuit of merger approval." He also expressed his belief that the merger would "lead to a lack of diversity of artists on satellite radio," adding, "Without this competitive force in the marketplace, the combined entity would no longer have to differentiate itself or improve its offerings."

He noted that even if the merged entity holds the line on pricing, it could effectively arrive at the same result by "decreasing service options or quality." He concluded, "These are just a few of the many reasons I believe this merger should be denied. I urge you to keep these concerns, along with other many consumer concerns that will inevitably arise when a monopoly is present, at the forefront of your thought weighing the impact of this proposed merger."