Originally published: October 20, 2010
Last updated: October 20, 2010 - 4:11pm
The Federal Communications Commission approved an order this week requiring the satellite radio provider Sirius-XM to set aside at least 4 percent of its channels on the company's Sirius and XM services for independent programming.
The order is part of the ongoing conditions set by the FCC when it approved the merger of the nation's only satellite radio providers in 2008. The independent programming provision was added at the time to address concerns from critics of the merger that it would "harm viewpoint and program diversity." As part of the order, the commission reversed a previous decision and will now allow Sirius XM to choose the independent programming, which is defined as having no financial tie to Sirius XM, that will make up this 4 percent requirement but does not allow the satellite radio provider to have editorial control over the programming. In addition, the company must submit the independent channels it plans to add to its XM and Sirius lineups to the FCC's Media Bureau for review before signing agreements with those channels. The company also must establish a transparent selection process that involves the creation of a public website detailing the criteria for proposed channels.
The Media Access Project praised the order, saying it included some of the recommendations it made to the FCC aimed at addressing concerns with the merger. "The requirements set by the commission allow people to access more content addressing the needs of minority communities, independent artists, and other niche audiences," MAP Senior Vice President Andrew Jay Schwartzmann said.
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