WASHINGTON – The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission says he is satisfied the $3.8 billion merger of the nation’s only two satellite radio companies is in the public’s interest, but that’s no guarantee the deal will win final approval.
Two of the other four commissioners are ardent foes of allowing big media companies to get bigger and a third has been sympathetic to the broadcast industry, which opposes the satellite radio deal.
Some powerful members of Congress also have spoken out against the merger. Put it all together, and approval of the deal is anything but a slam dunk.
FCC chairman Kevin Martin said Sunday he will recommend that Sirius Satellite Radio Inc.’s buyout of rival XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. be approved by the five-member commission.
The companies offered concessions, including turning 24 channels over to noncommercial and minority programming and a three-year price freeze on service.
Commissioners can vote as soon as they receive Martin’s order recommending the deal, which was expected late Monday.
The other four commissioners have kept their views on the deal largely to themselves. Unlike in other major decisions, Martin has no indication how they may vote. A three-vote majority is needed for approval.