Lawmakers: Block merger of XM, Sirius


WASHINGTON -- More than 70 lawmakers Monday urged antitrust authorities to block the proposed merger of the nation's two satellite radio companies, contending that the deal is anti-competitive.

In a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FCC chairman Kevin Martin, 72 members of Congress expressed their opposition to the XM-Sirius deal, saying it would harm consumers.

"On its face, we believe that sanctioning the marriage of the only competitors in the satellite radio market would create a monopoly, which would be devastating to consumers," the lawmakers said.

Chief authors of the letter are Reps. Gene Green, D-Texas, and Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., a senior Republican of the House Judiciary Committee that oversees the Justice Department.

Several committee chairmen and prominent members also signed the letter.

Among the Democrats signatories are Budget Committee chair John Spratt of South Carolina, Agriculture Committee chairman Collin Peterson of Minnesota, Rules Committee chairwoman Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York and presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio.

Among the 25 Republicans who signed the letter are former House Speaker Rep. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, Republican whip Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri and Tom Cole of Oklahoma, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The lawmakers join a growing cadre of congressmen who have expressed varying degrees of concern about the deal. While the lawmakers can't block the deal on their own, their concerns threaten to create an atmosphere that makes the deal harder for antitrust authorities to approve as they often pay attention to lawmakers' concerns.

In May, House Energy and Commerce Committee vice chairman Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., sent a letter expressing concern about the deal to Gonzales, Martin and FTC chairman Deborah Platt Majoras.

Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., chairman of the Senate antitrust subcommittee, sent a letter to Martin and Assistant Attorney General Thomas Barnett expressing opposition.

House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., and House antitrust task force ranking member Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, sent a letter to Martin and Gonzales asking a series of tough questions related to the merger.