The Justice Department will not block the proposed merger of Sirius and XM.
So we now await a decision from the FCC, which, if history is any guide, will follow in lock-step behind the DOJ.
Frankly, I was surprised at the brevity of the DOJ’s decision, given the complexity of the subject matter.
Not only has the DOJ closed its investigation, it did so with no conditions placed on the two companies. That means no mandated HD Radios as part of future satellite radio tuners, nor a spectrum set-aside for a third company that wants to become a satcaster, such as Georgetown Partners or Primosphere.
In a news conference after the decision was released Monday, the head of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, Thomas Barnett, said he didn’t believe there was a legal basis for challenging the transaction.
“Our threshold was: Was there a violation of antitrust laws?” DOJ concluded there was not.
He admitted this was an unusually complex case to review, calling the proposed deal “significant.”
The case hinged on the relevant market definition.
Looking down the road some five years, “We expect significant changes in auto offerings, for example, and there will be more alternatives than there are today,” Barnett said. The same could be said for audio entertainment, he said, mentioning additional consumer offerings that are going to compete with satellite radio like “mobile wireless broadband.”