Report: FCC To Approve Satcaster Merger
July 23, 2008 at 12:05 PM (PT)
In a startling turn of events, the FCC will approve the SIRIUS/XM merger, reports the WALL STREET JOURNAL. According to the paper's sources, the tipping point came when Republican Commissioner DEBORAH TAYLOR TATE, who had yet to publicly vote on the merger, decided to sign off on the deal in exchange for a consent decree that resolves several enforcement issues involving the satellite radio companies, and a combined fine of about $20 million.
TATE also requested a variety of other minor conditions, but they are not expected to delay the public announcement of her decision,which is expected shortly. Read the entire WSJ story here.
Earlier today, the AP reported that FCC Democratic commissioner JONATHAN ADELSTEIN withdrew his proposal of additional concessions for his "yes" vote on the XM-SIRIUS merger and cast his vote against it. Last week (NET NEWS, 7/17), ADELSTEIN listed the new concessions--devote more channels to minority and non-commercial interests, a six-year subscription price cap and inclusion of an HD receiver in future hardware. Apparently the offer was met with scant interest and even less support within the Commission; consequently the offer was withdrawn and ADELSTEIN sided with fellow Democrat MICHAEL COPPS to vote no--which most observers expected anyway.
As predicted, that left Republican DEBORAH TATE the deciding vote. The WSJ story basically confirms her interest in resolving pending enforcement action against the satcasters before signing off on it.
Look for both companies to be active as WALL STREET closes today.
Follow SIRIUS here.
Follow XM here.
NAB: Not Thrilled, To Say The Least
THE NAB wasted little time in releasing a reponse to the merger's imminent passage, and NAB EVP DENNIS WHARTON pulled no puches in the following statement:
"This sweetheart deal for Wall Street speculators is premised on a promise that a monopoly will provide consumers with lower prices, better service and more programming formats. Only members of the Flat Earth Society would buy into such specious nonsense.
"Just six years ago, the FCC denied a monopoly to the nation's only two satellite TV companies in a 5-0 vote. Yet today, the Commission is apparently preparing to grant a monopoly to the nation's only two satellite radio companies that in their 11 years of existence have had more luck flaunting the FCC's own rules than creating a successful business model.
"Historians will view this satellite radio giveaway as an irrational departure from 118 years of antitrust law wisely founded on the unassailable reality that competition serves consumers better than monopolies. NAB thanks Commissioners COPPS and ADELSTEIN -- along with consumer groups, 80 bipartisan members of CONGRESS, and scores of labor, minority and antitrust organizations -- who stood against this wrongheaded monopoly. Given such overwhelming opposition, we're not convinced the final chapter of this book has been written."