At long last, Sirius and XM complete their deal

xmsr.jpgHear that? It’s the sound of sighs. Sirius Satellite Radio has finally completed the purchase of rival XM Satellite Radio.

“The completion comes after a marathon period of government scrutiny that ended late last week when the U.S. Federal Communications Commission approved the deal, which was first announced 17 months ago,” Reuters reports.

Now that the deal is done, it’ll be interesting to see whether it was worth the wait. Neither company has posted a profit on its own, and, in fact, they have posted huge losses along the way as they’ve paid to build up subscribers.

RBC analyst David Bank put it this way in a note to clients: “While merger is beneficial for Sirius, we remain cautious as significant execution risk exists implementing synergies and recognition of synergies is probably already priced into stock.”

While they will no longer be fighting one another, they will still have to convince audiences to pick satellite radio over traditional radio, digital audio players and iPods. That’s no easy task, particularly when people are worried about gas prices, food costs, a lousy housing market and a fragile job picture. Do people really want to be spending their extra cash on satellite radio?

XM and Sirius: Weren’t they merging or something?

xmsr.jpg Finally, some movement.

It seems that the head of U.S. Federal Communications Commission Kevin Martin will support Sirius Satellite Radio’s proposed purchase of rival XM Satellite Radio.

The Washington Post and others are reporting that Martin decided to support the deal after the companies agreed to concessions intended to prevent the new company from raising prices or stifling competition among radio makers.

A decision has been a long time coming. Seventeen months ago the two companies announced they would merge, bringing entertainers such as Oprah Winfrey and shock jock Howard Stern under the same banner. The Justice Department approved the deal in March, but the companies are still waiting for the FCC.

Big is the new small

karmazin-smile.jpgWho needs competition when you have a nice big merger to complete? After 13 months of Congressional haggling that would have put John McCain to shame, Sirius chief Mel Karmazin won U.S. Department of Justice approval for his $5 billion marriage with XM Satellite Radio.
Sure they’re the only two subscription radio operators, but with all those iTunes downloads and Web radio personalities, there’s no need to think anyone will suffer with Howard Stern and Oprah Winfrey in their exclusive hands.   
Most expect the FCC will come through with the final green-light for XM and Sirius to close the deal, and then the real work on actually making money from satellite will begin.
We’re still a little stuck on the regulatory landscape that seems to err on the side of bigness, from Verizon and AT&T’s billion-dollar wireless spectrum wins, to a push from underdogs like Microsoft and Google to use the blank spaces of TV spectrum for mobile Internet and the ability to even contemplate a scenario in which Rupert Murdoch buys Newsday.
Let the games begin.

Reuters, Deal Journal, Silicon Alley Insider

Keep an eye on:

    Google unveiled plans for a new generation of wireless devices to operate on soon-to-be-vacant television airwaves, and sought to alleviate fears that this might interfere with TV broadcasts or wireless microphones.  (Reuters) Fox Broadcasting asked U.S. regulators to reconsider indecency fines the government imposed last month on 13 Fox television stations for airing episodes of a reality TV show in 2003.  (Reuters) Hulu video site looks great, but in terms of consistently good service, not so much. (Silicon Alley Insider) The CEO of Sony BMG Music Entertainment tells the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German!) that the company is developing an online music subscription service that would give users unlimited access to its music and be compatible with a host of digital music players.
    (Associated Press)

(Photo: Reuters / Mel Karmazin)

Client 9: not a businessman; “a business, Man”

spitzerad.jpgA cottage industry has risen from the ashes of Eliot Spitzer’s career and, well, life. Echoing Jay-Z’s words, Client 9 “is no businessman…he’s a business, man.”

Ok, maybe not an industry in the traditional sense. But certain opportunists companies are at least looking to make a quick buck on the former “Wall Street Sheriff’s” woes. It didn’t take long for Virgin Mobile Canada and Sirius Satellite Radio to add their takes on Client 9, Spitzer’s infamous court document alias.

“When you call us we’ll treat you like a person, not a client. Whether you’re #9 or #900, you’ll get hooked up with somebody who’ll finally treat you just how you want to be treated,” Virgin Mobile Canada promised.

UPDATE: AOL’s buying spree

kickapps-logo.JPGThe ink has barely dried on AOL’s $850 million proposed purchase of Bebo, but reports of another deal are already percolating. AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher reports AOL is seriously considering buying New York-based widget-maker KickApps for $90 million.

KickApps makes widgets to order for a broad range of companies, such as a car search widget for Autobytel and a social community for Time Warner’s CW TV network’s “Gossip Girl,” Swisher says.

Investors Softbank Capital, Prism VentureWorks and Spark Capital and others have dropped $17 million into KickApps.