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Thursday, July 24, 2008

XM/Sirius Merger: "I think it's fair to say an agreement in principle has been reached,"

via The WSJ:

WASHINGTON - A majority of commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission have reached a deal to approve Sirius Satellite Radio Inc.'s long-pending purchase of XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc.

The final hold-out, Republican commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate, agreed to vote to approve the deal after winning several concessions from the companies involving enforcement issues.

"I think it's fair to say an agreement in principle has been reached," FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said in an interview Thursday morning. "We're still trying to work out the language."

A deal was reached with the companies late Wednesday night to pave the way for Ms. Tate's vote on the merger, Mr. Martin said. Four of the commissioners had already voted on the deal, but they had split 2-2 on whether to approve it.

The two satellite radio companies agreed to enter into a consent decree to resolve complaints they violated FCC rules. Those violations include using excessive power levels on some radio units sold to consumers and erecting several unauthorized towers to boost their satellite signals.

The companies have agreed to pay almost $20 million to settle the complaints, with XM paying about $17.5 million and Sirius paying about $2.2 million.

Ms. Tate is expected to vote on the deal as soon as Thursday. The FCC isn't expected to formally release its decision for a few days, as staff attorneys draft the final paperwork for review by the five commissioners...

...The companies are expected to bring new a la carte radios on the market in the next three months that would provide consumers more choices in which stations they receive from the two services. ...

Full article here.

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