Satellite audio SDB tier put on hold once again


One of the conditions put on the merger of Sirius and XM satellite radio operations into XM Sirius was the establishment of a system to award channels to eligible entities to operate on 4% of the channel capacity of the merged entity. The merger was approved 7/25/08, and the FCC is still trying to figure out the mechanism for populating the channels.

“Eligible entity” is a phrase that in Washington bureaucratese can often be interchanged with “socially disadvantaged business,” or SDB. It is expected that the channels will eventually be offered to minority or other forms of niche programming.

Interested parties began questioning these mechanics pretty much from the get-go, and on 2/27/09, the FCC put the matter out for public comment. Since then, it’s been one deferral after another.

Now we can add “and another.” Implementation of the program is again on ice, until 11/21/10.

Explaining the decision, the FCC’s Media Bureau wrote, “The Bureau anticipates Commission action on the implementation guidelines in the near future, and thus this brief extension is appropriate.”

RBR-TVBR observation: 4% of channel capacity was believed to be about 12 channels back in July 2008. We have no reason to believe that number has changed. But in this case, the phrase “action … in the near future” may soon take its place in US mythology right next to “the check’s in the mail.”