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72 More Reps Lead Big Parade Against XM/Sirius - Broadcasting & Cable

72 More Reps Lead Big Parade Against XM/Sirius

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A group of 72 house members have signed a letter to the FCC, FTC and Justice Department opposing the merger of Sirius and XM.

The legislators include Democrats Budget Committee Chair John Spratt (D-S.C.), Rules Committee Chair Louise Slaughter (D-NY), and presidental candidate Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who heads a special oversight committee with wide-ranging purview and is just as opposed to terrestrial broadcaster consolidations.

On the Republican side, they include former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Republican Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). They join others on the Hill, notably the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Herbert Kohl.

The House members minced no words, saying "the marriage of the only competitors in the satellite radio market would create a monopoly which would be devastating to consumers."

The FCC last week started the unofficial 180-day shot clock on the proposed merger. XM and Sirius says they will be able to run a more efficient, cost-effective and consumer friendly service if they are allowed to merge, and that they would simply be a stronger voice in a crowded marketplace for national audio service. Broadcasters, led by the National Association of Broadcasters, argue it would be a government bail-out for business decisions. The letter referred to "expensive missteps" by XM and Sirius "as they rushed to beat each other to the market."

NAB also says the meld would create monoply, since local broadcasters don't compete with XM or Sirius for a national audience.

The FCC said when it initially issued the licenses that one company would not be allowed to own both licenses. Kevin Martin has pledged to keep an open mind, but said the issue of two licenses in the hands of one company was a hurdle to be overcome.

"The FCC has never before allowed the only two competitors in a given market to combine, and we would seriously question an FCC decision to start now," the letter concluded.

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