XM/Sirius continues to draw serious response


NAB President/CEO David Rehr is wondering why the apparent lack of candor exhibited by satcasters XM and Sirius isn’t being more thoroughly explored by the FCC. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) wants HD capability incorporated into satellite receivers and the current proposed price cap term doubled. And NPR wants HD incorporated and a much larger set-aside for minority/NCE channels.

According to some reports, FCC counsel is suggesting that the candor issue can be addressed separately and behind closed doors. Rehr strongly disagrees. "The simple fact that the applicant is willing to deceive the Commission raises qualification concerns," he wrote. "Under the Communications Act, the Commission must address as part of the merger proceeding the allegations in the record regarding lack of candor. If it determines that the allegations raise substantial and material questions of fact, it is required by law to designate the applications for a hearing. Either way, the candor issue may not legally be deferred to a subsequent enforcement proceeding."

Meanwhile, Markey said the XM and Sirius merger proposal was extraordinary, and if approved would require an extraordinary set of conditions. These would include opening receiver manufacture to all interested parties and requiring that satellite receivers also be able to pick up HD radio; that the price freeze on subscriptions be doubled from three to six years; and that there is a greater NCE/minority set-aside than the current 8% of capacity.

NPR agreed with Markey’s first two points and was more specific on the third, requesting a 25% set-aside, which would take the actual number of channels from 24 up to 75 if written into the contract.

RBR/TVBR observation: We cannot even begin to guess how many times over the years we’ve heard the FCC go on and on about the emphasis it places on candor. It expects and it demands absolute candor from all licensees at all times. It despises lack of candor, and on the flip side, occasionally rewards minor miscreants with discounted fines in recognition of their candor. But now, this one time they’re going to sweep candor under the rug like it’s no big deal just to demonstrate their unbridled love for monopolies?