We covered the analysis from respected Washington analyst George Reed-Dellinger that referred to a strongly worded letter urging closure on the merger, and praising the 8 channel solution offered by Sirius and XM. While there has been no official comment from Sirius or XM, and while the letter the Reed-Dellinger has not yet made the pages of the FCC website, there are indications that the letter will be well received by merger proponents.
The allocation of minority channels has been a topic raised during the merger process. Some cases seemed quite realistic, such as the Public Knowledge proposal of 5% for informational and educational programming, while other proposals such as Georgetown Partners seeking 20% of the spectrum have seemed over-the-top.
The 8 channels in this proposal could represent 4 channels from each service. Most likely, such programming would be talk radio, and therefore less demanding in terms of bandwidth use. Additionally, at least initially, we could be looking at 4 channels of programming that are identical for each service. In other words, four programs that would be offered to all XM subs and the same four programs available to Sirius subs.
There is no indication that the proposal would take away control of spectrum. That would remain in the merged companies control. Also, there is no indication that non-subscribers would have access to the programming. As it stands, it would appear that the added channels would simply be public service type programming where Sirius and XM have no editorial control.
For those that feel that this is a "shakedown", consider the alternatives. At least this proposal does not strip away synergies, nor does it impede the company from working with their entire slice of spectrum. In my opinion, a channel concession along these lines was always part of what the company was willing to do. Considering that the company has always utilized the support of Public Knowledge, it goes without saying that some sort of channel concession was in the cards from day one.
Position - Long Sirius, Long XM