FCC Staff Signs Off On XM, Sirius; Satellite Still Screwed

The FCC’s staff has given the XM and Sirius merger the go-ahead, which means it’s finally a done deal (after a mere 15 months or so) unless something extraordinary happens in the near future, the WSJ reports.

Technically, the FCC itself has to vote on the merger, and XM (XMSR) and Sirius (SIRI) will have to agree to a couple of concessions (price caps, a pledge to let other companies make receivers, a promise to hand over 8% of the spectrum to third-party broadcasters, etc).

But there’s no reason to think the commission itself won’t approve the deal, likely within the next three weeks. And the desperate satellite guys would agree to just about anything to get this deal done. Unfortunately, we still don’t see a merger helping the two companies out long-term: Consumer apathy plus increased competition are much harder to overcome than federal regulators.

As an aside: The WSJ, the AP and the Washington Post all reported on this story within minutes of each other around midnight Monday morning. Ever wonder why news organisations all miraculously learn about news stories at the exact same time? It’s called an “embargo”, and we won’t bother you with a Columbia Journalism School discussion about their pros and cons here.

But we will note that more than a year ago, Valleywag’s Nick Denton predicted that the Journal, under the new leadership of Marcus Brauchli, would stop honouring embargoes. Brauchli is gone now, but the embargoes remain:

We’ll say this for the WSJ’s Sarah McBride though: She’s the one who’s figured out how publish stories at midnight without having to actually be awake at midnight. We’re the idiots still hunting and pecking in the wee hours.

See Also: What Happens To XM And Sirius After A Merger? Not Much
The iPhone’s AOL Radio: Bad News For Satellite Radio

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