Despite vocal opposition from lobbyists for terrestrial radio, it looks like satellite radio providers XM and Sirius will finally get to merge. It only took 17 months, plus some absurd concessions:

The deal reportedly will also include a three-year price freeze and two-dozen channels dedicated to noncommercial programming.

Yes, that’s right. A price freeze for firms that are losing so much money they still might go bankrupt. And a legal requirement to carry a bunch of stations hardly anyone wants. It’s a classic case of Orwellian “pro-consumer” regs that discourage innovation and equate “the public interest” with “that which does not interest the public.”

By the way, don’t confuse “noncommercial” with “commercial-free.” Here‘s a fair summary:

“Noncommercial”, in this context, clearly doesn’t mean advertising-free, since that would apply to nearly all of the programming. And it doesn’t mean programming which is available without a subscription, either: you’ll need to pay to listen to anything on satellite radio. It doesn’t even mean diverse programming: the whole satellite radio business model is based on the idea of providing a vast range of options to subscribers, thereby maximizing the number of people you’re potentially appealing to.

What “noncommercial” really means is “public educational broadcasters, non-profit educational institutions, and local low-power radio stations.” The horror! The horror!

Of course, it could have been worse. FCC hold-out Adelstein was pushing for…

…a six-year price freeze and for more noncommercial channels than XM and Sirius have agreed to create.

“Instead, it appears they’re going to get a monopoly with window dressing,” he said Wednesday. “We missed a great opportunity to reach a bipartisan agreement that would have benefited the American people.”

Gee, does this mean the best thing for the American people would be a permanent price freeze and nothing but hundreds of channels of “public educational broadcasters, non-profit educational institutions, and local low-power radio stations”? Wow, compared to that, even terrestrial top-40 sounds pretty good.

HT: Corina Capan