Confounding so many predictions made when the merger was first proposed a year ago, the Justice Department has approved the buyout of XM Satellite Radio by rival Sirius network. Essentially, the Justice Department has accepted the contention of the satellite radio companies that they compete not merely with one another but with broadcast radio stations and other forms of entertainment. "The likely evolution of technology in the future, including the expected introduction in the next several years of mobile broadband Internet devices, made it even more unlikely that the transaction would harm consumers in the longer term," department attorneys wrote in the ruling.
The $5 billion deal has already been approved by stockholders of both companies. But it still faces a huge hurdle: the FCC, which has to agree that a merger is in "the public interest," an ill-defined term that will become even murkier in the hands of an unelected regulatory agency governed by the ideological whims of its members. It's a good bet that the fate of the merger will ultimately be decided in court.