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Sirius, XM Outline A La Carte Plans

XM and Sirius Satellite Radio have announced two a la carte plans they will offer if the companies are allowed by the government to merge.

Monday, they said that in comments to the FCC being filed Tuesday they plan to propose allowing subscribers to chose 50 channels for $6.99, a 46% discount from current packaged pricing of $12.99, then add extra channels for as little as a quarter apiece.

The second option would be to allow them to choose 100 channels for $14.99 from both Sirius and XM.

The companies also plan to offer six other packages, including two family-friendly tiers of service ($11.95, $14.99) that will include getting a rebate for blocked channels. It will als offer two new packages, one mostly music, the other primarily sports and news.

Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin, at a National Press Club speech Monday, called it the first time a subscription entertainment service has allowed for such program choice.

The National Association of Broadcasters, which strongly opposes the merger, was quick to dismiss the announcement. "The history of antitrust law demonstrates that two hotly-competitive companies will promise anything to become a monopoly," said NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton, who said the plan means subs will have to buy a new radio to get the a la carte option. 

Karmazin said the a la carte packages would require new radios, but that the family-friendly and news/sports and music options would work with existing radios.

Karmazin said all the changes and new packages could be in place within a year of the merger being improved.

But he also said that a la carte only made financial sense with the merger, so if the merger were not approved, there were no plans to offer a la carte and the company would return to a one price strategy.