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Karmazin Pushes Sirius/XM Merger; Dorgan Pushes Back

Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin took to the Washington Times to pitch his company's merger with XM Satellite radio, with an emphasis on their most recent a la carte proposal. Meanwhile, consolidation critic Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) reiterated his strong opposition.

Karmazin has from the outset said the two companies didn't have to merge, but that he would try to do whatever it took to convince regulators and legislators that it was in the public interest.

That has included creating family tiers and the announcement that they would offer programming a la carte, both near and dear to the regulatory heart of FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.

As for "passing the regulatory hurdle" of establishing the public interest benefits, Karmazin called it a slam dunk. "Consumers will have lower prices and more choice - the very definition of serving the public interest. What's more, the fact that our competitors offer their content for free over public airwaves is all the incentive we need to keep our quality high and our prices as low as possible."

But in a letter to the FCC and the Justice Department, both of which are vetting the deal, Dorgan said that after a hearing on the merger and receiving responses from the companies to questions he submitted in writing, he remained "deeply opposed to the merger."

"I cannot believe that this merger will result in lower prices or increase diversity. And I cannot believe that the public will be better served by this merger," he said, urging both to reject it.