Serious Hurdle For XM/Sirius?

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Prospects appear to be dimming for the merger of XM and Sirius, though, again, I picked Blake to beat box his way to the Idol crown..

The deal suffered a serious setback this week when the chairman of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee told the FCC and Justice essentially to use any means necesary to deny the meld, calling it a monopoly that would harm consumers.

Then in announcing a deal with Fox for carriage of the NCAA college football championship and other games, XM appeared to hand ammunition to the other side, in this case broadcasters who argue argument that the satellite market is a separate one from terrestrial and should not be allowed to go from two companies to one.

"XM puts a special emphasis on serving "displaced" sports fans," said the release, "who cannot hear their favorite teams on local outlets."

While the Sirius/XM camp has been arguing that terrestrial broadcasters are robust competitors, those broadcasters have countered that individual stations cannot compete head-to-head with a national service, while that service can compete with them for local listeners, which would appear to be supported by XM's assertion in the release.

The deal did get some support from a couple of groups representing blacks and Hispanics, but their argument that there would be more opportunities for minority programmers if the two services wound up eliminating duplicative channels was a little tough to follow, but maybe that was just me.

By John Eggerton

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