Dems to FCC: Sat radio must keep promises


Senior congressional Democrats called on the FCC on Thursday to approve the XM-Sirius satellite radio merger but to make sure that consumers don't get lost in the shuffle.

Lawmakers specifically urged the FCC to require the merged company to adhere to price constraints that XM and Sirius submitted to the commission and assurances that the company can't shut out firms from making radios that can receive the service.

"It is essential that if the FCC approves this merger, it ensures there are appropriate safeguards in place to protect consumers," said Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. "It should allow any manufacturer to offer devices that are compatible with the newly formed company's satellite radio service."

Dingell is chairman of the House Commerce Committee. The letter also was signed by Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., head of the committee's telecommunications panel, who urged the commission to "remember their mandate to consider consumer welfare and protect the public interest."

The Justice Department already approved the deal, but it is unclear when the commission will act. FCC chairman Kevin Martin said recently that the staff still was examining its options. Commission aides said Thursday that they are unsure when an announcement on the deal would come. (partialdiff)