At yet another hearing Tuesday on the pending XM-Sirius Satellite Radio merger, Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin reiterated arguments that the $13 billion transaction will benefit consumers through lower prices and greater program choices. Democrats on the Senate Commerce Committee, however, expressed some skepticism, as they questioned the need for the merger against Karmazin’s statement that the satellite radio industry would continue to prosper without a union of Sirius and XM. Tuesday’s hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee is the latest in a series of visits to Capitol Hill by Karmazin, who, during the last six weeks, has testified before antitrust panels in the House and the Senate. Defending the merger, Karmazin told committee members that subscribers of the combined entity would be able to access programming offered by both Sirius and XM on an “interoperable” satellite radio for less than the $25.90 it would now cost to subscribe to both services. Karmazin also argued that the development of new technologies during the past ten years, such as iPods and terrestrial digital radio, have created vigorous new competition for the satellite radio industry. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel Inuoye (D-HI), however, cast doubt on Karmazin’s claims, asserting that, “given the public interest in promoting competition and maximizing a diversity of media outlets, we should be skeptical of claims that new technologies necessarily ‘change the equation’ and provide competition sufficient to restrain monopoly power.” Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) took issue with Karmazin’s observation that the satellite radio industry would remain viable regardless of the transaction, noting: “that is not what provokes a merger.” While agreeing that the U.S. satellite radio sector will continue to prosper, one analyst in attendance supported the rationale behind the merger, telling lawmakers that, “the combined company will almost certainly have greater resources to invest in further technological innovation leading to a more rapid development of improved products.”