XM/Sirius Review Process Begins
After a long delay, the government has finally begun its formal review of the prospective merger between XM and Sirius Satellite Radio. The process formally began Friday with the official notice from the Federal Communications Commission that the matter is open for public comment.
The merger must be approved by both the FCC and the Department of Justice, but faces a steep battle, with FCC chairman Kevin Martin upfront about his skepticism of the merger’s eventual passage. The two satellite companies are bracing for a fight, however; they announced last week that they have retained the high-powered lobbying firm Quinn Gillespie to push for the merger.
Meanwhile, the chief National Association of Broadcasters, the group representing terrestrial broadcasters which has been an outspoken opponent of the merger since it was announced in February, said last week that it’s time for the merger to be dropped. In a etter to Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin that was obtained by the Hollywood Reporter, NAB head David Rehr suggested that Karmazin scrap the merger, calling it a “government bailout” for such Sirius decisions as handing out a nine-figure contract to Howard Stern.