Still Waiting: News and Notes on XM/Sirius Merger

The nation's top communications regulator stuck to his goal of issuing a decision on the XM/Sirius merger before the end of the first quarter, which closes at the end of the month.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin said Tuesday that since it's still the early days of March, "I wouldn't say that we still can't get it done by the end of the first quarter." Martin talked about the merging companies and their support for a la carte programming choices if and when the deal wins approval, though he said the entities "face a very high hurdle" for the transaction.

Meanwhile, the Consumer Coalition for Competition in Satellite Radio, which is fighting the proposed XM/Sirius merger, wrote the FCC about the deal and the merging companies arguments that they need to combine in order to survive in the competitive digital audio marketplace.

Citing XM's fourth quarter and year-end numbers, in which the company finished 2007 with 9 million customers and annual revenues of $1.1 billion, the group said the results "should erase any subliminal messages by the merger parties or third party merger proponents about the need for this merger.

"Competition with Sirius Satellite Radio has not weakened," the group said. "Both Sirius and XM have consistently maintained that they will be able to survive and flourish as independent companies, in the absence of a merger."