Sirius-XM Merger Nears Approval


NEW YORK Seventeen months and a slew of concessions later, the Federal Communications Commission is poised to officially grant permission for the only two U.S. satellite radio operators to merge.

On Wednesday, sources said FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein joined fellow Democrat Michael Copps in voting against allowing Sirius and XM to join forces, giving commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate the fifth and deciding vote.

Now Tate is ready to join fellow Republicans chairman Kevin Martin and commissioner Robert McDowell in voting in favor of the merger because XM and Sirius have agreed to certain conditions. Her vote, expected Thursday or Friday, will break the 2-2 tie.

The concessions that Tate was pushing are for XM and Sirius to pay a fine for past indiscretions that involve radio receivers that exceeded FCC power limits. She also was disturbed that XM and Sirius still have not produced a radio that works with both services, even though they have promised to do so.

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

The Department of Justice determined four months ago that the merger wouldn't harm consumers and approved the deal.

The National Association of Broadcasters, which represents the traditional radio industry, was quick to denounce any deal involving merger approval as anti-competitive and suggested that the fight is not over.

"We're not convinced the final chapter has been written," NAB evp Dennis Wharton said.

He also called merger approval a "sweetheart deal for Wall Street speculators" and said that XM and Sirius, in their 11 years of existence, "have had more luck flaunting the FCC's own rules than creating a successful business model."

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