FCC wants conditions from Sirius, XM

Satellite radio firms are a vote away from merger approval

Shares of the satellite radio companies plunged briefly after FCC chairman Kevin Martin said more concessions from Sirius and XM might be needed before their merger plan is approved.

By the end of trading Friday, though, investors factored in the bullish news that Martin and another commissioner already are convinced that the FCC should not block the merger, meaning the satellite radio firms are one vote away from approval.

According to published reports, that vote belongs to commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate, a Republican. Besides Martin, Robert McDowell, another Republican, has voiced his support for the deal.

On the other side, Democrat Michael Copps has been out front with his objections while Jonathan Adelstein, another Democrat, hasn't said much but is expected to align with Copps.

Martin has said he's satisfied with the pledges from Sirius and XM to institute a three-year price freeze and open two dozen channels for minority and public programming, among other concessions, but three votes are needed for merger approval.

"Other commissioners have concerns and they want conditions," Martin said.

After having each traded down more than 5% on Friday, Sirius ended the day flat and XM off 3%.

While the Department of Justice has signed off on the merger without conditions, the FCC has officially been considering the issue for 398 days as of Friday, according to its Web site.