Sirius-XM Update: Karmazin Grilled (Again) at Capitol Hill Hearing

We’re not going to write about every twist-and-turn of the Sirius-XM merger process — that would be close to full-time employment — but we will keep you posted as events merit. Today’s installment picks up with Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin under the heat lamp at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights. According to AP, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) didn’t quite take to the idea that the combined company would still have significant competition: “We must view these claims with a healthy degree of skepticism. Over-the-air radio does not come close to duplicating the impressive array of program offerings of satellite radio.” Karmazin stuck to the company line. (He’s good at that: he’s just as fervent a spokesman for sat radio now as he was way back when for terrestrial.) Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), AP reports, was more receptive: “I personally don’t believe that there will be a lack of competition if you’re successful.”
The NAB’s Mary Quass said the real problem was local radio wouldn’t be able to compete with the combined power of a national satellite service: “XM and Sirius want government permission to take two competitive companies and turn them into a monopoly.”
— Karmazin once again said he was open to regulatory oversight of price increases as a condition.
MCN: Ted Hearn focuses on Karmazin’s slight turnaround from saying last month the services couldn’t handle a la carte plans to promising rebates for “adult” content customers don’t want and to block that content. However, he would not promise Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) to ban indecent material from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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