Sirius-XM Merger OK May Hinge Upon Commissioner Tate
June 25, 2008 at 5:12 AM (PT)
SIRIUS SATELLITE RADIO's bid to buy XM SATELLITE RADIO may depend on a regulator who says she sometimes struggles to find a balance between the needs of consumers and industry, writes BLOOMBERG NEWS. DEBORAH TAYLOR TATE, one of three Republicans on the five member FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION, may be the swing vote as the agency considers whether to approve the merger of the only two U.S. pay-radio companies, and under what conditions, said STIFEL NICOLAUS & CO. analyst BLAIR LEVIN.
"It's not clear what she would want," said LEVIN, a former FCC chief of staff who is based in WASHINGTON. Republican FCC Chairman KEVIN MARTIN recommended approval of the merger on JUNE 16th, and the remaining Republican member, ROBERT MCDOWELL, "pretty clearly" will vote for the takeover, LEVIN said.
The agency's two Democrats, who have consistently opposed media consolidation, haven't said publicly how they will vote. One of them, JONATHAN ADELSTEIN, said last month his vote would depend on what conditions are attached to a takeover. The other, MICHAEL COPPS, called the merger "a steep climb" in a JUNE 16th statement.
Opposition by the two Democrats probably would give TATE a decisive vote on the merger and any conditions. MARTIN is calling for price constraints and suggests setting aside 8% of the airwaves used by XM and SIRIUS for competing minority broadcasters and noncommercial stations.
MCDOWELL continues to meet with interested parties and hasn't decided how to vote, said spokeswoman BRIGID CALAMIS.