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FCC Hopes To Rule On Sirius/Merger In Q1

Washington — Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Kevin Martin said at a press briefing yesterday he hopes the agency will rule on the Sirius/XM merger by the end of the first quarter.
The FCC is still reviewing the merger, originally submitted in February last year, and has reportedly contacted the satellite radio companies with follow up questions as late as last week.

Martin acknowledged, generally, that FCC rulings usually succeed merger rulings by the Department of Justice (DoJ). The DoJ must determine if the merger would be anti-competitive while the FCC must determine if it is in the public interest.

Even if the FCC postponed a ruling until June, the deal could be viable, RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank said recently. After that time, given the upcoming presidential election, the FCC might choose to leave the decision to the next administration.

The merger agreement between Sirius and XM includes a termination clause whereby the parties can dissolve the merger as of March 1, although such clauses are often ignored said industry members.

Sirius and XM had hoped to close their merger by the end of 2007. A recent statement from the companies said, “As the companies have said from the outset, we expected to complete the processes at DOJ and the FCC so that the regulators could make their decisions and the merger could close by year end. We have fully complied with the requests from both agencies. The ball is now in their court, and we look forward to their determinations.”