Prospects for FCC approval of the XM-Sirius Satellite Radio merger appeared to improve this week, as FCC Chairman Kevin Martin publicly endorsed the merger partners’ plan to offer à la carte pricing. In hopes of winning FCC approval of the $13 billion transaction by year’s end, XM and Sirius offered last month to provide customers with two different à la carte options that would enable subscribers to select the channels they want. Under the first option, customers would be able to select 50 channels from either the XM or Sirius platform for $6.99 per month. Alternatively, for $14.99 monthly, subscribers could choose up to 100 channels that include premium programming from the lineups of both companies. Despite admitting that he has yet to review the proposal in detail, Martin—an advocate of à la carte pricing on cable networks—told a press conference that he was “pleased any time companies come forward with proposals that would give consumers more control over what they pay for.” Taking Martin’s remarks as an encouraging sign, investors boosted stock prices for both companies, with XM shares rising nearly 5% and Sirius shares improving by 3%. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), however, was less enthusiastic, as it released an analysis indicating that per-channel rates currently paid by XM and Sirius subscribers would rise under the proposed à la carte regime. Criticizing the plan as a “sham,” NAB quipped: “only in a monopolist’s world are 50-channel minimums, higher prices, interoperability restrictions and a required hardware upgrade considered a consumer benefit.” Terming the NAB analysis as “misinformed and self-serving,” XM and Sirius, in a joint statement, declared that the NAB “fails to mention that XM-Sirius will reduce the price for entry level satellite radio service to $6.99—a reduction of 46%— and that the proposed offering will not require existing subscribers to pay more for the broad selection of content they enjoy today.”