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Clock Starts On Sirius/XM Merger

The FCC Friday officially accepted the application for the merger of XM and Sirius satellite radio companies, which means it has started the unofficial 180-day shot clock for reviewing the deal.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has said that the deal faces a fairly high hurdle. When the FCC approved satellite radio, it said that one company should not own both licenses. But Martin has also said he was not prejudging the merger, either.

"The FCC public comment period is an important step in the regulatory review of our merger and brings us closer to its completion," XM and Sirius said hopefully in a joint statement.

"The combination of our companies will lead to more choices and better pricing for consumers, and result in a stronger competitor in the rapidly evolving audio entertainment market.These benefits explain why the merger already has received the strong support of a wide array of minority, consumer, women's and rural organizations.We are confident that the comments filed with the FCC in the weeks ahead will continue to reflect these significant public interest benefits."

"We look forward to working with the Commission to demonstrate that this merger is in the public interest, will have no anti-competitive effects on the market and to making any appropriate changes in its 1997 licensing order."

Initial comments and petitions to deny the merger are due July 9, responses by July 24.

Don't look for terrestrial broadcasters to be reflecting any public interest benefits to the meld. the National Association of Broadcasters strongly opposes the merger, saying it will create a monopoly in national radio service. Preferring to define the market as audio, the satellite companies counter that it will just strengthen them in a market that, rather than monopolized by satellite radio, includes terrestrial, cable radio, Internet radio and portable music devices.