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NAB files FOIA request uncover details of satellite radio FCC violations


WASHINGTON, DC -- NAB late yesterday sent a letter to the FCC responding to XM and Sirius’s objection to NAB’s Freedom of Information Act request for information related to the satellite radio companies’ violations of FCC rules governing FM modulators and terrestrial repeaters.

Noting a “compelling public interest” in having access to information with a direct bearing on the pending XM/Sirius Merger Application, the letter urged the FCC to provide the records sought by NAB to “shed light on the scope, nature, and degree” of the violations.

Sirius recently admitted requesting manufacturers to produce Sirius radios that operated beyond the interference regulations set by the FCC. In Sirius’s annual report (Form 10-K) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company disclosed on page 26 that “certain SIRIUS personnel requested manufacturers to produce SIRIUS radios that were not consistent with the FCC’s rules.”

On multiple occasions, NAB has urged lawmakers and policymakers to investigate the tactics employed by both XM and Sirius. A 2006 study of 17 wireless devices commonly used to transmit audio signals from satellite radio devices and MP3 players to in-dash car radios showed that 13 of the 17 devices exceeded field strength limits set by the FCC. Furthermore, six of the noncompliant devices exceeded strength limits by 2,000% and one surpassed strength limits by 20,000%.

In September 2006, NAB President and CEO David K. Rehr sent a letter to the heads of XM and Sirius Satellite Radio urging each company to “voluntarily withdraw and replace all noncompliant satellite radio devices in circulation.”

Regarding XM and Sirius’s terrestrial repeater violations, NAB last year urged the FCC to “immediately commence a full investigation into both the actual and reported operations of Sirius and XM’s terrestrial repeater networks.” In 2006, XM and Sirius requested authorization to continue or resume operating terrestrial repeaters that were constructed and deployed inconsistently with FCC rules. “These latest disclosures reveal a persistent corporate (if not industry) circumvention of the FCC’s regulations,” Rehr said at the time.


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