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FCC to approve XM-Sirius merger

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The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the XM-Sirius merger has been given the tentative OK by the FCC. Deborah Taylor Tate, the final FCC commissioner to cast a vote, is expected to vote in favor of the merger, thus clearing the way for the merger.

There are, of course, a few restrictions to be placed on the newly combined company.

• Price freeze. They have agreed not to raise prices for at least the next three years.

• Fines. The companies have to pay some $20 million in fines for all sorts of transgressions, including building satellite repeaters in unapproved locations, and creating FM transmitters that were more powerful than the FCC allows.

• Minority programming. The companies will have to set aside a percentage of their bandwidth, currently thought to be about 8 percent (24 channels) for educational and minority programming.

Be sure to watch the National Association of Broadcasters’ Web site, since the merged companies are not being forced to include regular radio or HD Radio in their new receivers, something the NAB lobbied for.

Expect to hear from both XM and Sirius soon.

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