The FCC is famous, even among its regulatory bureaucracy peers, for its mollusk-like pace of action. Not that it hasn’t tried to improve. For instance, a few years ago it put into place a 180-day “shot clock” for reviewing mergers — giving itself six months to give an up-or-down decision on transactions. It was a nice idea. It came with a few loopholes, however — for instance, nothing says when the vaunted “shot clock” must begin.
(chart from Engadget, numbers as of May 31).
The folks at Sirius and XM Radio have learned this the hard way. Last Friday, the FCC started its 180-day clock — launching a proceeding to review their merger, 78 (seventy-eight) days after the firms submitted their merger plans. That’s a record.
No official word on why the mergers was left hanging so long. Its certainly been a controversial deal — surrounded by quite a bit of uncertainty (bizarrely, even on whether the FCC has a rule banning the merger). But that hardly justifies a 78-day delay: its the controversial and uncertain deals that need a deadline, not the easy ones.
Anyway, for now, the clock is ticking, giving the FCC some 176 more days to decide. Unless it decides to stop the clock again.