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Why A-la-Carte Satellite Radio, But Not IPTV?

According to an SNL Interactive report, XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio have offered details of the programming choices a merged company would offer, promising to provide consumers with "a la carte" packages starting at $6.99 per month.

I'm left wondering, why didn't the FCC or the U.S. Department of Justice push for this type of requirement before approving the AT&T merger with BellSouth -- or any of the prior mergers that reduced the potential for competition, while further consolidating the American communications and media landscape?

SNL says that the proposed packages seem to lend credence to the satellite radio company's claims that their proposed merger would result in lower prices and expanded consumer choice, a contention merger opponents such as the National Association of Broadcasters dismiss.

Under the proposed pricing plans, which the companies said they planned to include in their reply comments filed with the FCC on July 24, customers would be given the option of selecting 50 channels from one service for $6.99, a 46 percent drop from the current standard subscription rate of $12.95. A second a la carte option, priced at $14.99, would allow consumers to choose 100 channels from either service. The companies said additional channels would be available starting at 25 cents each.

"The a la carte options and other packages unveiled today demonstrate that consumers will be the beneficiaries of this merger," Mel Karmazin, CEO of Sirius, said in a statement. "The efficiencies of the merger will allow the combined companies to save hundreds of millions of dollars a year and give us the opportunity to increase the number of programming options available to subscribers."

Additionally, the companies unveiled a series of new niche programming packages, including two family-friendly offerings devoid of adult programming. The companies said customers interested in blocking adult programming would receive credits of $1.00 to $2.00 per month, depending on the package.

Other packages include either XM Everything and select Sirius channels, or Sirius Everything and select XM channels, for $16.99, as well as a predominantly music offering and a news, sports and talk package. The current XM and Sirius $12.95-per-month packages will be offered, as well, and the companies vowed than no existing radio would be made obsolete by the merger.

The companies said the new packages would be available six months after the merger, with the "a la carte" offerings available one year after the merger.

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