updated 03:40 pm EDT, Mon March 24, 2008
DOJ Approves Sirius XM
The proposed merger between Sirius and XM took a major step forward today with tentative approval by Department of Justice. The government agency's ruling notes that the threat of a monopoly isn't likely as their satellite radio services compete against many other formats besides themselves, including iPods and HD Radio. A combined entity would have no chance in the market if it tried to raise prices, the Department said. The statement also dismisses claims by HD Radio that a merged Sirius and XM would exclude competing technology from car stereos and other equipment.
The approval brings the merger much closer to completion but will still require greenlighting by the Federal Communications Commission, which has reportedly been drafting approval documents but has also been elusive in committing to an approval timeframe. FCC chair Kevin Martin recently noted that his organization may miss its projected end-of-winter target, though Sirius and XM are both set to continue their merger agreement until at least May.
Sirius and XM have jointly said a merger is necessary both to offer stronger competition as well as to save costs for both companies, which have only gradually been turning towards profit in recent years as they grow their respective customer bases.