Post Sirius+XM, Regulatory Beat Goes On

Despite a sealed merger approval involving Sirius and XM Satellite Radio, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is still discussing various post-approval requirements.

The agency is now examining whether the merged satellite group should be required to integrate HD (digital) radio receptivity into its upcoming devices.

Actually, the examination rubs both ways.  The FCC is also mulling whether HD radio receivers should be equipped with satellite receptivity (SDARS), part of a broader interoperability examination mandated by the merger approval order.  A Notice of Inquiry (NOI) was officially issued on Monday, the beginning of a commenting window.  “Consistent with our commitment made in the Merger Order, we initiate this NOI regarding whether to require HD Radio or any other audio technologies to be incorporated into all SDARS receivers and/or whether to require SDARS or any other audio technologies to be incorporated into all HD radio receivers,” the notice explained.

Of particular interest is whether HD radio should be a mandatory add-on for satellite devices that also offer analog, AM/FM reception.  Earlier, the satellite companies offered a commitment to develop devices capable of receiving both services, and open access to other technologies.

In response, the FCC declined to formally require HD radio integration as a condition for merger approval.  “Sirius XM committed to allowing device manufacturers to incorporate in SDARS receivers any other technology that would not result in harmful interference with the merged entity’s network, including HD radio, iPod ports, internet connectivity, and other technology,” the NOI explained.

Story by news analyst Alexandra Osorio.