To win FCC approval of their merger plans, XM and Sirius agreed yesterday to pay nearly $20 million in fines as part of a consent decree that would settle technical violations of the FCC’s rules that include the illegal operation of terrestrial repeaters. Observers say that FCC Commissioner Deborah Tate has urged enforcement of past rule violations as a condition for her support of the companies’ proposed union. Two years ago, XM admitted to the FCC that it had operated more than 200 repeaters at power levels that exceed authorized limits and that it had operated another 20 repeaters at unauthorized locations. Sirius, meanwhile, conceded that it had operated 11 repeaters outside of authorized technical parameters. Under the consent decree, XM would submit a voluntary payment of $17 million to the U.S. Treasury and either shut down or bring into compliance 100 repeaters within 60 days. Sirius would pay $2 million to the U.S. Treasury while shutting down or bringing into compliance 11 repeaters within 60 days. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin confirmed yesterday that the consent decree “is significant in moving forward with the merger.”