Court to decide Sirius XM class action case Aug. 8

Jill Dunn | June 02, 2011

Sirius XM Radio subscribers who sued the satellite radio corporation will learn in an Aug. 8 fairness hearing if the federal court will approve their class action settlement.

Judge Harold Baer Jr. for New York’s southern district gave preliminary approval to the agreement May 12.  Baer will decide at that hearing if the proposal is “fair, reasonable, and adequate.”

Plaintiffs allege the 2008 merger creating Sirius XM violated federal anti-trust laws and Sirius XM raised prices because of the merger. Corporation officials deny any wrong doing.

The suit affects those who subscribed between July 29, 2008, and July 5. These subscribers paid the U.S. Music Royalty Fee, a monthly multi-radio charge or a $2.99 monthly Internet fee if they previously did not pay for Sirius XM’s content via Internet.

Under the proposal, the company will not raise the base price for certain packages, not including lifetime subscriptions, before 2012. It also will not increase charges before next year for multi-radio subscriptions, Internet streaming, “best of” plans and the U.S. Music Royalty Fee.

Subscribers with long-term plans, not including lifetime subscriptions, may keep current rates by renewing subscriptions before Dec. 31.

Former subscribers may reconnect satellite radio without paying a reactivation fee and receive one month service free. The other option would be one month free of Sirius XM Internet streaming service.

The company estimates the value of plaintiffs’’ compensation will be $180 million and is not providing cash awards.

Sirius XM had planned to increase subscription plan fees and other charges, including the multi-receiver discount, by $2 per month. That increase had been slated to start July 28, the day the Federal Communications Commission’s prohibition against the company raising prices expired.

Also at the hearing, the court will consider the plaintiffs’ request that the company pay attorneys’ fees and costs up to $13 million, plus interest.

Current subscribers scheduled to renew before Dec. 31 do not need to do anything to benefit from the lawsuit. Following settlement approval, current subscribers scheduled to renew after Dec. 31 who want to restart their long-term plan at current rates, along with former subscribers who want one month basic service or to receive Internet streaming service should go to www.siriusxm.com/blessingclassaction.

The court’s deadline to request exclusion from the settlement is July 5 and objections to the settlement must be made by July 11.

The court authorized this notice, which provides additional lawsuit information at www.satelliteradiosuit.com/Home.aspx.

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