FCC boss Kevin Martin has told his staffers to prepare documents for XM Satellite Radio’s (XMSR) merger with rival Sirius (SIRI), the WSJ reports ($):
During a press conference Thursday, Mr. Martin said he had asked his staff to draft a document incorporating a variety of possible outcomes for the merger proposal. He wouldn’t go into specifics about exactly what he had asked his staff to draft, and said he hadn’t made a final decision on the outcome.
“I have the staff drafting various options,” Mr. Martin said. “I haven’t figured out what I think we should do on it yet.”
But assigning staff to work on a draft signals that the FCC has finished its research, and would be prepared to act relatively quickly once the Justice Department, the other regulatory body which must rule on the merger, issues its decision. Mr. Martin said it was unlikely a ruling from the FCC would come by the end of the first quarter, in contrast to remarks he has made in recent months.
That means that Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin’s hopes of closing the deal this month are probably toast. So let’s bring up the recurring question: Why the heck has it taken these people so long to approve this merger? Have they not looked at Sirius’ and XM’s quarterly earnings reports — pathetic subscriber growth, shifting sales models, huge losses, etc. — and Apple’s (AAPL) massive profits?
It’s obvious to everyone — except regulators, apparently — that the two satellite radio companies are competing with many more companies and industries than just each other. The fact that Kevin Martin hasn’t made up his mind yet about the deal is laughable.
For more, please read my colleague Henry Blodget’s similar post on the subject, written five months ago.