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Sat radio rivals unveil merger agreement


February 20, 2007 Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio said Monday that they will merge to create a $13 billion entity, a scenario that would all but end an expensive bidding war for talent that the two have been waging but also will invite extensive scrutiny from lawmakers and over-the-airwaves radio broadcasters. Laws prohibiting the two to combine have been in place since each were granted licenses about a decade ago, in effect creating a government-mandated duopoly because regulators had no intention of allowing other sat-radio operators to spring up in the U.S. Nevertheless, laws can be tweaked to grant permission for the two money-losing companies to merge, and that has competitors nervous. Dennis Wharton, an executive vp with the National Association of Broadcasters, which represents traditional radio, said he'd be "shocked if federal regulators permitted a merger of XM and Sirius."

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