updated 09:30 am EST, Wed January 16, 2008
Sirius and XM Deal Soon
The FCC should reach a decision as to whether or not it will approve the Sirius and XM merger before the end of March, the organization's chair Kevin Martin says in a new update. Without committing to a set date, the official says the FCC is most likely to reveal its opinion in the first quarter of the year and would end anxieties about the tie-in between the two satellite radio providers, both of whom hoped to finish the deal by the end of 2007. Settling the merger will still need approval from the Department of Justice, but the FCC will not necessarily wait for this to make its decision known, Martin says.
News of the seeming end to the Sirius/XM merger debate comes as the FCC is consulting other companies about the perceived impact of the merger, some of which are raising objections to the deal. HD Radio creator iBiquity Digital has frequently argued that a monolithic satellite radio provider would amount to a monopoly and has asked that the FCC force HD Radio to be bundled with satellite if a merger goes ahead, guaranteeing the earthbound radio format an opportunity to compete against its rival.
Both Sirius and XM in turn have argued that a combined entity would still have to compete against digital music as a whole, including iPods, Internet radio, and other technologies beyond traditional radio towers.