July 11, 2008 / 4:58 PM / 9 years ago

FCC chief open to more terms on XM-Sirius deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission said on Friday he would consider imposing further conditions on Sirius Satellite Radio Inc’s acquisition of XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc if it were needed to win support of other FCC commissioners.

<p>A woman walks past the waiting area of the XM Satellite Radio building in Washington, March 25, 2008. REUTERS/Larry Downing</p>

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said some of the FCC’s other four commissioners had expressed concerns about the deal, but none had yet made a concrete proposal for additional terms to protect consumers.

“They (FCC commissioners) need to figure out what it is that they want and propose it,” Martin said at a press briefing.

Martin said he hoped the commissioners would be ready to vote on the deal by the time the agency holds its next meeting on August 1.

The FCC decision is the final hurdle in a regulatory marathon for the deal that was first announced in February 2007. Antitrust authorities at the U.S. Justice Department approved the merger this past March.

Martin has proposed that the agency approve the deal so long as the companies make 24 radio channels available for noncommercial and minority programming, according to FCC sources.

In addition, the companies have pledged to cap prices, make interoperable radios available to consumers and offer programming on an “a la carte” basis.

But it is unclear whether Martin has the two other votes he will need on the five-member commission to get his proposal through.

Sources at the FCC last week pointed to Republican commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate as a likely swing vote on the issue. They said Tate could push for additional enforcement provisions to the deal to ensure that Sirius and XM follow through on their promises.

On Nasdaq, Sirius fell 11 cents, or 5.16 percent, to $2.02, while XM eased 38 cents, or 4.71 percent, to $7.68.

Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe, Richard Chang, Leslie Gevirtz

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