Senate Democrats Weigh In With Objections, Concerns -- May Be More Than Just Election-Year Posturing
The Justice Department has given its blessing to the merger of XM and Sirius to create a satellite-radio hegemony.
The companies have done their cross-my-heart-hope-to-die routine to try and get the FCC to follow suit, in the face of opposition from the NAB and Consumers Union, among others. By all indications, the FCC vote, if and when it comes, will be close.
But now come more voices from inside the Beltway who could sway the outcome. Those would be Senate Democrats, in the form of John Kerry, Clare McCaskill and Ben Cardin. None are impressed by the XM-Sirius offer to set aside 12 channels for minority programmers and another 12 channels for noncommercial informational programming.
That comes out to about 8 percent of their total spectrum. The senators want the companies to cough up 50 channels, or about 20 percent to ensure competition. And while they're at it, they want XM-Sirius to make their receivers HD-radio compatible.
Not that very many of us are listening to HD radio, but apparently our elected officials -- many of whom presumably receive donations from broadcasters who are doing everything they can to get a piece of the digital radio pie -- want to change that.
All of this could mean a longer delay on an FCC vote, just what the companies don't want in an election year when a presumptively consumer-friendly Democrat could occupy the White House.