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FCC wants public comment on XM-Sirius merger

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The Federal Communications Commission is seeking public comment on whether it should uphold a 1997 decision that bars satellite radio rivals Sirius and XM from merging.

When the commission awarded broadcast licenses to Sirius and XM, it sought to assure competition in the market by stipulated that neither company was permitted to acquire the other's license.

The satellite radio providers dispute the import of clause. They say it is only a policy statement - rather than a binding rule - because it was not officially codified in the Code of Federal Regulations. According to Sirius and XM, the FCC should ignore or alter the prohibition because a merger will serve the public interest.

In an SEC filing in March, Sirius said the rule policy whatever is unnecessary "because the preservation of two separate satellite radio licensees is no longer required to help assure sufficient continuing competition".

The deal is currently being reviewed by the FCC and the Justice Department.

To gauge the public's temperature, the FCC is accepting comments on the proposed merger. Interested parties can give the FCC what-for in a 30 day-period after the FCC's rules appear in the Federal Register. The FCC did not specify when that publication will occur.

Comments can be filed online or by snail mail. ®

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