UPDATE 1-US FCC commissioners weigh XM-Sirius approval order

Fri Jul 25, 2008 5:08pm EDT

(Adds description of draft's requirements)

WASHINGTON, July 25 (Reuters) - Members of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission were given a new draft proposal on Friday that would give conditional approval of Sirius Satellite Radio Inc's (SIRI.O) purchase of XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc XMSR.O, an agency source said.

The agency's five commissioners could vote on the draft proposal as early as Friday evening and were expected to approve it by a 3-2 margin with the support of all three Republican commissioners, according to the source.

It would require XM and Sirius to cap prices for three years, offer programming on an "a la carte" basis, and make radio channels available for noncommercial and minority programming, the source said. The companies also will have to make available to consumers radios that receive both Sirius and XM.

The approval would allows XM and Sirius to clear the final hurdle in a regulatory marathon that began after the merger was first announced in February 2007. Antitrust authorities at the U.S. Justice Department gave their approval in March.

The merger would bring entertainers such as Oprah Winfrey and shock jock Howard Stern under the same banner. It has been criticized as anti-competitive by the traditional radio industry, and by some U.S. lawmakers.

A major obstacle was removed on Thursday when XM and Sirius said they expected to pay a total of about $19 million to settle FCC compliance issues involving certain radios that include FM transmitters and terrestrial repeater stations. (Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

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