The proposed merger of XM and Sirius has passed the Department of Justice gauntlet. This was one hurdle that was uncertain for the deal, but the DOJ decided that allowing the merger would not lessen competition in the media landscape.
Naturally, the opponents to the deal are all crying about the decision and repeating the same claims about legalized monopoly, the satcasters defiance of existing rules, the expectation that the merged company will raise its subscription rates (why is that a concern to terrestrial broadcasters?) and more. The DOJ doesn’t see it that way, and neither do I.
The next step in the process is the visit the FCC. From what I see, the unbiased parties believe that the FCC will agree with the DOJ, although there will likely be some restrictions and conditions imposed on the deal. Will the merged entity be required to surrender some of its spectrum? I doubt it. Will the combined service radio be required to include HD Radio? Possibly. If so, that’s a win for that technology.
Now I wonder how the opponents, who have spent huge sums to publicize their opposition, will justify the cost of their efforts to their constituents.
With less than 10 days left in the first quarter of 2008, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin stated that he doubts the FCC will complete its review of the proposal before the end of the quarter. That’s an easy bet. I’m sure the pressure will increase to have a ruling by the end of the second quarter. The FCC will move carefully, and will receive many visits from the lobbyists before this decision is made.