It's been a hard battle since the controversial XM (XMSR) and Sirius (NASDAQ:SIRI) satellite radio merger was proposed in February 2007, and now it's finally going to be approved.
This week the FCC's vote was two to two, and now we're just waiting on Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate to vote to approve the deal.
Tate has agreed to vote for approval, but only if the companies agree to cap prices for subscriptions, agree to make radios that receive both of their signals, and set aside channels for educational and minority programming. The companies have already agreed to pay nearly $20 million to settle complaints about violations of FCC rules. And since the two companies have already basically agreed to such requirements, it seems like now it's only a matter of time.
There are still some loud voices of dissent; Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein is concerned about the merged company having too much power. He pointed out that XM-Sirius would have "more spectrum than AM and FM combined." He's obviously concerned about protecting consumers from the concentration of power. Adelstein said he'd only vote for the deal if the companies agreed to extend their price cap for six years, and allocate more channels for educational and minority programming.
But now shareholders should be celebrating--or at least sighing with relief--that the deal is fianlly getting done. Neither of the companies on their own could attract enough users to attain or sustain profitability. So the companies are also quite relieved; they were eager to get FCC approval with enough time to put new combined Sirius/XM radios on the market in time for the holiday shopping season, when these companies always get a boost. Now that they're going to be able to merge their offerings, you can bet they're hoping for a boost as consumers, relieved they don't have to make a choice.