Last updated: August 5, 2008 - 8:16pm
Federal Communications Commission member Deborah Taylor Tate, the swing vote for the FCC's approval of the Sirius Satellite Radio-XM Satellite Radio merger, issued a nearly 3,000 word justification of her vote on the deal two days later than other Commissioners. She said that the decision to back the merger was one of the most difficult in her two years on the FCC. While she justified the affirmative vote with the conditions set by the FCC, Commissioner Tate revealed her preference throughout the process for more stringent merger terms. Commissioner Tate said she would not even consider the deal until the companies agreed to pay $19.6 million in a consent decree to terminate the agency's inquiries into certain satellite radios with FM transmitters and the compliance of some terrestrial repeaters. Commissioner Tate, who met with state attorneys general and broadcasters in early July about their opposition to the deal, sought for the combined XM-Sirius to divest some of its 25 MHz of spectrum but came to the conclusion it would disrupt service to millions of satellite listeners. She found the companies' agreement to set aside 8% of their spectrum, or 24 channels, for minority and public interest programming to be an acceptable compromise. The former chairwoman of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority also said XM and Sirius agreed to not air local programming and advertisements, a vital part of satellite radio's business model. But that is not all. She expressed fears about the company's three-year price cap. As a Nashville (TN) native, she sought assurances the merged company would not reduce royalty payments to artists "through gamesmanship of these new programming tiers."
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