The FCC Enforcement Bureau is said to be in negotiation with wedding partner wannabes XM and Sirius, according to a report in Communications Daily. At issue is failure to comply with terrestrial repeater and receiver rules. NAB was quick with a reminder that both companies have admitted mislocating many of their terrestrial repeaters, and sometimes operating them above their licensed power. And Sirius has admitted that some of its employees allowed manufacturers to produce non-compliant receivers. The result has been the occasional bleeding of satellite programming onto incumbent radio stations, including the disconcerting intrusion of Howard Stern onto stations known for much more family-oriented programming.
RBR/TVBR observation: We could add the failure to offer interoperable receivers to this list, leading to a failure to compete effectively. And if provision of a la carte programming is such a wonderful thing, why hasn’t one of these fierce competitors put it out there already, the better to win subscribers from its chief rival?
It remains a mystery how DOJ could possibly see its way clear to approving this merger. But when we see that the FCC and an alleged miscreant are negotiating, the first thing we think is that they may well be hammering out terms of a consent decree, in which XM and Sirius would admit no guilt, make a "donation" to the US Treasury, and promise to never ever do again what they are "not guilty" of.
If that is what’s going on right now — the FCC and XM/Sirius are looking at erasing their many sins — it would seem the FCC is clearing the way for a thumbs up verdict. Stay tuned.