Remember the Sirius-XM deal? It was in all the papers March before last, when the two satellite radio firms asked the FCC for permission to merge. The FCC still hasn’t made a decision on the issue (the Justice Department approved the deal earlier this year.)
Yesterday on CNBC, FCC chairman Kevin Martin was asked when an answer might be forthcoming. “We’re taking a close look at that and I suspect the commission will act soon,” Martin stated. CNBC’s Mark Haines was a bit taken aback by the vague response, asking how it could possibly take nearly a year and a half to review the transaction. “Aren’t you under some obligation to answer these guys, if not today, tomorrow or very soon?, ” he asked.
Martin wasn’t at all plussed, responding: “I do hope we’ll be able to get back to them soon.”
Hope to get back to them soon? Talk about putting someone on hold. One can just imagine it: “Thank you for calling the FCC. Your $4 billion transaction is very important to us. A regulator will get back to you very soon.”
After 445 days of consideration, you’d think the FCC could do better than this. This is an agency, after all, that used to brag about it’s 180 day “shot clock” for merger review. But that clock has long expired (even though the FCC didn’t even formally start the ticker until the 78th day).
XM and Sirius deserve more than “we’ll get right back to you on that” platitudes. The FCC needs to decide on the merger — yes or no. Then it needs to review it’s merger review procedures to find out what’s gone so terribly wrong. Although there’s no telling how long that could take.