Deciding Vote in XM, Sirius Deal Makes an Offer

The potential deciding vote in the U.S. government's review of the $3.1 billion merger between satellite radio companies told The Associated Press he will vote in favor of the deal if the companies agree to tougher conditions.

XM Sirius
XM Sirius

So far, two of the five members of the Federal Communications Commission have voted to approve Sirius Satellite Radio's buyout of rival XM Satellite Radio Holdings. That is one vote shy of a majority.

FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, a Democrat, wants the companies to cap prices for six years and make one quarter of their satellite capacity available for public interest and minority programming, among other conditions.

If the executives agree, Adelstein told the AP that he will be in favor of the deal.

Adelstein circulated his recommended conditions among the other four commissioners Thursday. His proposal seeks more concessions than the companies offered voluntarily one month ago. That offer led to FCC chairman Kevin Martin's recommendation that the deal be approved.

Robert McDowell, a Republican, has since joined Martin in recommending approval. Deborah Taylor Tate, also a Republican, is undecided and had been considered the possible swing vote.

Adelstein has been a vocal opponent of big media mergers, so his offer is somewhat surprising. But with strong odds that Tate would eventually vote yes, his move would make the deal more palatable for critics.

"It's critical that if we're going to allow a monopoly, that we put in adequate consumer protections and make sure they're enforced," Adelstein said.