Monday, July 23, 2007

Merged XM-Sirius Would Offer 'A La Carte' Pricing

By Corey Boles (Wall Street Journal)

WASHINGTON -- A merged Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. and XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. would offer so-called a la carte pricing options, with packages starting as low as $6.99 a month, the companies said Monday. In a statement, the rivals fleshed out the details of what choices subscribers would have if the federal government allows them to complete their tie-up. Listeners could choose from a package of 50 radio channels for $6.99 a month, compared to the current standard rate of $12.95 a month. They also could opt for a 100-channel package that includes selecting channels from the other service's range for $14.99 a month. A so-called "Family-Friendly" tier, which would enable listeners to block out channels they found offensive, would be offered as well. The companies say this option would cost $1 less a month than the standard $12.95 monthly charge. The companies are trying to win regulators' approval for their merger, announced in February. In order for the deal to proceed, both the Department of Justice's antitrust division and the Federal Communications Commission must approve it. Monday's pledges clearly are aimed at the FCC, whose chairman, Kevin Martin has long been a proponent of both a la carte programming and cleaning up the airwaves. They likely would do little to impact Justice Department lawyers, whose analysis of the deal will be from a purely competition point of view.

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