McCaskill joins ranks of XM/Sirius foes


Frosh Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has fired off a letter to Assistant AG Thomas Barnett and FCC Chairman Kevin Martin in opposition to the pending merger of satellite audio services XM and Sirius. According to the National Association of Broadcasters, she becomes the 82nd federal legislator to do so.

She quoted the FCC's own 1997 service-founding words to the effect that "one licensee will not be permitted to acquire control of the other remaining satellite DARS licensee." She added, "This rationale holds true today."

Discussing the benefits of competition, she noted, "Sirius has said it would agree to a condition placed on the merger to not raise subscription prices; however, this is an acknowledgement that the market, absent this condition, would not protect consumers."

She added that she was not pleased with the unaddressed issue of interoperable equipment, noting that anyone wanting to switch from one service to another must by a new radio, and as it stands now a subscriber looking for pieces of both service would need a receiver from each company, or would have to by a new interoperable one when it is eventually made available.

"While XM and Sirius argue that merger approval will enhance the availability and distribution of interoperable equipment, it is unclear how long that may take or how solid those guarantees are."