With the merger of Sirius and XM certain conditions were outlined that the company has to comply with. One of those requirements was the allocation of six channels set aside for minority programming from each service (Sirius and XM). In all, twelve channels would be allocated in the form of a lease to minority programming. As with any government condition, the issue has been embroiled in debate and red tape, but it appears that certain parties are working on finding a way to cut through the clutter, and make such channels a reality.
Alphastar and iClick2Media have teamed up to form the Diversity Satellite Radio Consortium (DSRC) with each party seeking to lease and manage six channels. The DRSC has also left the door open for other parties to enter the consortium and participate on the channels. Unlike many proposals, Alphastar and iClick2Media already have existing capabilities to make the FCC condition a reality.
According to their FCC filing, DSRC feels that they bring many facets to the table that should bolster their chances for selection.
The DSRC reflects the objectives of the Condition in the Merger Order because:
1) The channels would be leased to a diverse multiethnic group of parties that each meets the definition of Qualified Entities.
2) The DSRC includes parties with significant experience in the media and communications sector but with little present media ownership interests.
3) The DSRC consists of small businesses that ordinarily and traditionally have been unable to access ownership and carriage opportunities in the terrestrial and satellite radio platforms.
4) The DSRC respects the fact that channel capacity was made available voluntarily by Sirius XM and intends to fully engage and coordinate with Sirius XM.
5) Selecting the DSRC to lease the channels would eliminate further delay in the fulfillment of the Condition.
6) Finally, the new program content the DSRC would provide arguably would assist in increasing the Sirius XM subscriber base by the new demographics of unserved radio audiences the DSRC intends to target.
AlphaStar has maintained their interest in the minority channels throughout the merger process, and even long after. Other entities such as Chester Davenport have fallen off the radar altogether. The issue of the twelve channels has been postponed a couple of times already, but it appears that various proposals are gaining ground through aligning their efforts. The latest postponement
gave Sirius XM until June 29th, to come into compliance, and as yet no resolution has been announced CORRECTION - The date for compliance is August 29, 2009). While the issue could see more delays, it is quite possible that the company is in active negotiations with parties interested in leasing these channels. If negotiations with DSRC are indeed happening, implementation could happen quite fast. However, given FCC involvement, look for things to drag out a bit longer as various parties jockey for position. In theory, once resolved, satellite radio will be able to boast an even more diverse channel line-up.
If you thought that you never had to read another FCC filing again, welcomed to the world of hammering out FCC conditions.
Position - Long Sirius XM Radio