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Guest Message by DevFuse

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XM-Sirius Merger down to 1 vote


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36 replies to this topic

#21 OFFLINE   Marvin

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 05:59 PM

First, Jim Cramer's take:
http://www.cnbc.com/id/25818037

Second, this $20M fine is 36 TIMES the fine that CBS got for showing a boob on primetime TV (which, yes, got overturned in courts...something I agree with). Which seemed to upset more people and do more "harm" than XM/SIRIUS' violations. Doesn't that seem a bit excessive??


CBS ended up just the other day not having to pay any of the fine for that as well. That only took 5 years.

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#22 OFFLINE   trh

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 07:05 PM

Receiver interoperability is part of the conditions of a Digital Audio Radio Service (DARS) license and has been from the beginning. FCC rules state that each and every DARS operator must “certify that its satellite DARS system include a receiver that will permit end users to access all licensed satellite DARS systems that are operational or under construction.”

When someone pressed the issue, Sirius and XM got together and on October 6, 2000, filed a joint submission with the FCC that they were working on a solution. I think that's pretty much where it died.

In an interview with USA Today last year, Mel Karmazin, CEO of Sirius said this:

Q: You've been working since 2000 on a radio that can receive both XM and Sirius signals. When will that be completed?
A: We have one. It's in my office. … At this point, there is no market for it because nobody is subsidizing the cost of the (dual) radio. Today what Sirius does is that we subsidize (our) receiver. And the reason we subsidize it is because we're gonna get a subscription. So, we think with the merger this really represents an opportunity for us to be able to financially subsidize radios that provide for interoperability.

USA Today Article

#23 OFFLINE   Ken S

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 07:43 PM

Isn't the fine partially based on their FM Transmitter strength being well over what was allowed. I know both companies got nailed and had to stop selling radios for awhile while they re-did the FM transmitters.

#24 OFFLINE   trh

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 08:38 PM

Isn't the fine partially based on their FM Transmitter strength being well over what was allowed.

A Reuter's article has this paragraph: "The FCC rule violations, to be resolved with the $20 million fine, stem from allegations that XM and Sirius exceeded allowable strength of some of their ground-based transmitters and failed to follow through on a pledge to make interoperable radios available to customers."

XM & Sirius have argued that the 1997 FCC Order didn't require they actually make interoperable radios -- it only said they had to design one. The order stated that they "are required to design a receiver which would accommodate all satellite DARS providers." The NAB has maintained that the intent of the FCC was that XM & Sirius would produce/market such a receiver.

96 pages of jibber-jabber if you're so inclined. 1997 FCC Order

#25 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 10:57 PM

In reading through the interoperability sections, it is obvious that the FCC thought that these interoperable receivers were going to see the light of day sooner than never.

Section 106 (the one I quoted) describes the situation a little bit differently than section 103 (the one trh quoted). In my estimation, the FCC used the wrong terminology in their order. If they had demanded a interoperable "tuner" instead of "receiver", Sirius wouldn't have been able to do a one-off. I'm inclined to believe that the Sirius "interoperable" unit may have two tuners in it.

It seems to me that Sirius will appeal the fines and they will be thrown out because of this terminology issue.

#26 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 10:58 PM

Isn't the fine partially based on their FM Transmitter strength being well over what was allowed.

Nope. That resulted in a slap on the wrist and having to swear the future units would be within spec.

#27 OFFLINE   syphix

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 05:22 AM

NAB's statement on the assumed FCC approval...sounds like an appeal is already in the works:
http://www.nab.org/A...CONTENTID=12784

"This sweetheart deal for Wall Street speculators is premised on a promise that a monopoly will provide consumers with lower prices, better service and more programming formats. Only members of the Flat Earth Society would buy into such specious nonsense.

"Just six years ago, the FCC denied a monopoly to the nation's only two satellite TV companies in a 5-0 vote. Yet today, the Commission is apparently preparing to grant a monopoly to the nation's only two satellite radio companies that in their 11 years of existence have had more luck flaunting the FCC's own rules than creating a successful business model.

"Historians will view this satellite radio giveaway as an irrational departure from 118 years of antitrust law wisely founded on the unassailable reality that competition serves consumers better than monopolies. NAB thanks Commissioners Copps and Adelstein -- along with consumer groups, 80 bipartisan members of Congress, and scores of labor, minority and antitrust organizations -- who stood against this wrongheaded monopoly. Given such overwhelming opposition, we're not convinced the final chapter of this book has been written."


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#28 OFFLINE   wilbur_the_goose

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 06:43 AM

Bigbenny13 - Too bad you can't sue the US Government without a private bill passed by Congress!

#29 OFFLINE   syphix

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 07:45 AM

WSJ.com:

A majority of commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission have reached a deal to approve Sirius Satellite Radio Inc.'s long-pending purchase of XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc.

The final hold-out, Republican commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate, agreed to vote to approve the deal after winning several concessions from the companies involving enforcement issues.

"I think it's fair to say an agreement in principle has been reached," FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said in an interview Thursday morning. "We're still trying to work out the language."

A deal was reached with the companies late Wednesday night to pave the way for ...

(subscription needed for the full story)
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#30 OFFLINE   iotp

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 07:51 AM

As far as "dual" radios..

My guess is that a revamp of channels will happen.

My guess also is that "tiered" subscriptions are on their way too.

That wont make people happy, paying for a subscription for radio is an ok thing.

From a discount, I recently paid $77/year for my XM on my new Honda with built in XM, even at the $12/month rate.

To get people to pay upwards of $20/mo I think just wont happen.

People are paying absorbanant rates for high speed internet, cable or satellite tv, and to through another $20-30/mo on radio?

Not gonna happen here. Thats for sure.
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#31 OFFLINE   syphix

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 08:29 AM

Nope. That resulted in a slap on the wrist and having to swear the future units would be within spec.

Wrong: part of the "fine" is because of over powered FM transmitters on the radios:
http://online.wsj.co...p_us_whats_news

For the companies, the deal will come at a steep price. They are expected to enter into a consent decree, with XM paying about $17.5 million and Sirius paying about $2 million, to settle complaints they produced satellite radio transmitters that exceeded FCC power limits and placed booster towers in unapproved locations.


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#32 OFFLINE   tiger2005

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 08:37 AM

The fact that the NAB is even involved in this makes me sick. Gotta love the US Government! That should have proven from the very beginning that satellite radio has major competition outside of the two sat radio providers.

Essentially, satellite radio's competition is against a FREE product in terrestrial radio, and MP3 players. The fact this whole thing took so long to figure out is ridiculous to me. Its not at ALL the same as when DirecTV and Echostar tried to merge. People in the middle of nowhere with no access to a cable line would've been screwed. Terrestrial radio has a FAR deeper penetration in this country than OTA TV signals, so the NAB's argument is pure crap.
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#33 OFFLINE   syphix

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 08:47 AM

Oh, but tiger2005...the NAB was fighting for the consumer!! ;):D

They shot themselves in the foot...if they really feared that a monopoly would not serve the consumer and raise rates, why didn't they just shut up, wait for the merger to happen, watch them raise rates, and see all the subscribers abandon XM/SIRIUS to listen to AM/FM??

Answer?

BECAUSE IT WAS NEVER ABOUT THE "CONSUMER".
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#34 OFFLINE   Frrrunkis!

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 07:15 PM

As far as "dual" radios..

My guess is that a revamp of channels will happen.


That's an interesting situation post merger. Mel has stated that you will be able to keep the same service you have now for the same price. You would think that the merged company would be interested in cutting redundant content (most music channels) and just broadcasting the same content to both systems. I would assume they could save alot of cash...I just don't know how feasible that sounds. So technically, it won't be the same service.

My guess also is that "tiered" subscriptions are on their way too.


Absolutely. It's technically XMSirius' way of raising prices and covering it up by saying it's just a way of providing more options for their subscribers. Sirius customers can pick 50 of the Sirius channels you want for $6.99...if you want Howard, it'll cost you an extra $6/mo. Want sports premiums? That'll be another $5/mo. Probably 70 channels for $16 bucks? No thank you. OR, a Sirius customer can pick 100 Sirius channels and a choice of only 11 best of XM channels for $14.99/mo. 100 channels for $15/mo...not quite, I'd like to stick with my 170 channels for $13/mo. Granted, I probably only listen to 30 channels on the XM platform, I still like having the variety and all of those channels at my fingertips. I'd love to just pick whatever channels I want off of both platforms, but that just doesn't seem possible in this tiered plan. I'll probably just stick with the $12.95/mo XM version and hold onto it as long as I can.

That wont make people happy, paying for a subscription for radio is an ok thing.

From a discount, I recently paid $77/year for my XM on my new Honda with built in XM, even at the $12/month rate.

To get people to pay upwards of $20/mo I think just wont happen.

People are paying absorbanant rates for high speed internet, cable or satellite tv, and to through another $20-30/mo on radio?

Not gonna happen here. Thats for sure.


I've been with XM for about 5 years and I still hear the typical, "How you can justify paying for radio?" It's easy for me...I travel alot and I like the fact that I can stay on the same channel. I also like O&A and hockey. It's perfect for me. But $16+/mo? I might reconsider, or at least cancel a radio or two to try and cut some costs. And even if it includes a bunch of Sirius channels...I don't care, not much interests me over there. I was happy paying $9.99/mo back in the day...$13/mo is silly, but $16+ is ridiculous.

#35 OFFLINE   pinkertonfloyd

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 10:10 PM

My understanding of the fine is that it is related to their terrestrial links being above the FCC approved limits. I agree that $20 million is simply extortion.


It really goes to that some of the locations of the towers are not exactly where the licenses say that are... we're not talking by miles, but by feet, and the weird part is that XM (who has by far more repeaters) doesn't own the towers, they're leased by companies, so XM files a license based on the data from the tower owner (who is most likely running cellular, STLs, and even FM/TV on the same tower in many cases), the NAB (and strangely, Sirius) finds out that some of the towers aren't exactly where they should be and files complaints that they're operating outside of their licensed location.

(Most likely the data was off when some of the towers were built before GPS became accurate to within 12 feet, so they basically are within a "ballpark" area (literally) but since they operated for so long at that licensed location, to just keep them that way (rather than re-filing for a TON of licenses... these towers usually have loads of radio equipment on them to make money/cut costs).

The other part is the hot transmitters on the units, which XM to this days says passes FFC regs when tested, just the tests were changed, and that most of the complaints were most likely from the cheap IPOD and 3rd party ebay transmitters.

#36 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 11:30 PM

Wrong: part of the "fine" is because of over powered FM transmitters on the radios:
http://online.wsj.co...p_us_whats_news

The fines were for hot terrestrial repeaters, not the receivers. You'll note that while Sirius was busted for hot FM transmitters and unauthorized repeaters, their fine was a fraction of XM's for hot repeaters. The WSJ article doesn't discuss the distribution of the fine amounts.

adopt comprehensive compliance plans, and take steps to address any potentially non-compliant radios remaining in the hands of consumers

The penalty in this instance is repairing or replacing the receivers.

#37 OFFLINE   Herdfan

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 02:09 PM

not the receivers. You'll note that while Sirius was busted for hot FM transmitters


Wasn't that the Howard Stern issue where adjacent cars listening to stations in the lower band ( think religious programming) would all of a sudden have Stern blaring out of the speakers.

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