Washington

XM-Sirius: Enforcement Action Is Apparent Hold-Up

XM Satellite Radio-Sirius Satellite Radio still not voted on. 7/25/2008 03:28:00 AM Eastern

The XM Satellite Radio-Sirius Satellite Radio merger had still not been voted on Friday morning, apparently over a hold-up in a vote by the commissioners on a consent decree settling a rules-violation complaint against the two companies, with Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin's the missing vote.

XM/Sirius

Still, the chairman was expected to sign off and the merger to go through, so the hold-up could be administrative or strategic.

A source said commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate was not planning to vote on the merger until that enforcement action was taken, and she already cast her vote for it. Commissioner Robert McDowell also voted to approve it.

That leaves Martin's vote, ironically, as the key missing ingredient to issuing the consent decree and paving the way for the merger review he has been trying to wrap up.

The two commission Democrats haven't voted on the enforcement action, according to a source, and they are already on record opposing the merger, so they are unlikely to tip the balance even if they agree that the companies should have to pay a combined $20 million for the violations related to the placement and power levels of equipment.

Thursday morning, XM and Sirius announced that they were in discussions with the FCC and outlined the terms of the settlement, including the price they would be paying.

It is unclear what the hold-up is, but it would certainly not be the first time last-minute negotiations put a crimp in the chairman's plans.

No one was available in the chairman's office to respond.

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