Subject to regulatory approval and completion of their proposed merger, XM and Sirius Satellite Radio would offer à la carte program packages that would allow subscribers to select and pay for the channels of their choice. The plan, confirmed by Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin in a speech at the National Press Club on Monday, was outlined on the eve of the FCC’s deadline for comments on the $11 billion transaction. A decision on the deal is expected by the end of this year, and observers say that, by offering an à la carte pricing model, the companies hope to bolster their claim that the merger serves the public interest. As FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is a known proponent of à la carte pricing, experts add that the proposal appears to be targeted specifically to Martin, who said earlier this year that XM and Sirius face a “high hurdle” in convincing regulators that a union between the sole U.S. providers of satellite radio service is warranted. According to Karmazin, the merged entity would offer two à la carte options. Under the first option, subscribers would be able to select 50 non-premium channels, carried by either Sirius or XM, for a fee of $6.99 per month and would be able to add additional channels at a cost of 25-cents per channel per month. For $14.99 monthly, subscribers may opt instead for a package of 100 premium channels selected from both the Sirius and XM lineups. The merged entity would also offer a “familyfriendly” program tier that would enable viewers to block channels they deem to be offensive, for $11.95 monthly. While declaring that “our aim is to have all of these packages available within a year” of the merger’s closing, Karmazin stressed that the offer is contingent upon regulatory consent, as he added that Sirius would not provide an à la carte option if the FCC rejects the merger. Although an aide to Martin merely indicated that the chairman “looks forward to reviewing the entire record,” a spokesman for the Consumers Union—an opponent of the XM-Sirius merger—applauded the proposal, describing it as “a wonderful step in the right direction.”