Deal Reached for FCC to Clear XM-Sirius Merger
Regulators reached an agreement to conditionally approve Sirius Satellite Radio's purchase of XM Satellite Radio as the companies said they would pay millions of dollars to settle allegations of past rule violations.
The three Republicans on the five-member Federal Communications Commission have agreed in principle to vote in favor letting the deal proceed as long as the companies agree to conditions to protect consumers and settle the FCC enforcement matters, a source familiar with the agency review said on Thursday.
"I think it's fair to say an agreement in principle has been reached," FCC Chairman Kevin Martin was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying.
The agreement would allow XM and Sirius to clear the final hurdle in a regulatory marathon that began after the merger was first announced in February 2007.
Antitrust authorities at the U.S. Justice Department gave their approval in March.
A major obstacle was removed earlier on Thursday when XM and Sirius said they expected to pay a total of about $19 million to settle FCC compliance issues involving certain radios that include FM transmitters and terrestrial repeater stations.
Martin told Reuters progress toward resolution of the alleged violations was a major step toward getting the deal approved.
"I'm optimistic and hopeful that we will be able to move forward very quickly," Martin told Reuters.
The merger would bring entertainers such as Oprah Winfrey and shock jock Howard Stern under the same banner.
It has been criticized as anti-competitive by the traditional radio industry, and by some U.S. lawmakers.
XM and Sirius said that as part of a possible consent decree, they expected to make voluntary contributions to the U.S. Treasury of about $17 million and $2 million, respectively.
Sirius shares were down 1.1 percent to $2.65 in Thursday morning trading on Nasdaq. XM shares were up 3 percent to $10.34.