The National Association of Broadcasters is pressing its case to see filings from XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio concerning terrestrial repeaters which were not built as licensed, and concerning satellite receivers not built to specification. It has requested the information from the Enforcement Bureau under the Freedom of Information Act, and made the request via the services of someone who knows his way around that Bureau very well, its former Chief David H. Solomon, now an attorney at Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP.
The satcasters have objected to the request, but NAB argues that it is in the "compelling public interest" to shine the light of day on the information to fill the record as the two companies pursue a proposed merger. The FCC wants to see "the scope, nature and degree" of the violations. The terrestrial repeater network has long been an area of concern for broadcasters, as has the receiver issue. The latter was thrown into stark relief by a recent Sirius SEC filing in which it admitted that "certain Sirius personnel requested manufacturers to produce Sirius radio that were not consistent with the FCC's rules."
The NAB argues that even if the merger overcomes significant antitrust hurdles, the two companies seem to have engaged in "…a persistent corporate (if not industry) circumvention of the FCC's regulations," as NAB President/CEO David Rehr put it, calling in to question how the two would behave as a single merged entity.