The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission is expected to support the $5 billion merger of Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio, according to published reports.
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's approval comes in exchange for concessions that include a three-year freeze on subscription prices and the turning over of 24 channels to noncommercial and minority programming, the Associated Press reported. Martin is expected to issue his recommendation as early as this week that the FCC should approve the merger.
"As I have indicated before, this is an unusual situation," Martin said in a statement. "I am recommending that with the voluntary commitments (Sirius and XM) have offered, on balance, this transaction would be in the public interest."
However, merger approval hinges on the approval of at least two of the four remaining commissioners, who have largely kept their opinions on the matter private.
The FCC is the final regulatory hurdle the companies need to move the merger forward. The deal, which was valued at $13 billion in February 2007 when it was announced, was approved by XM and Sirius shareholders last December.
Martin had indicated at the end of March that the agency was inching closer to a decision on whether the deal passes muster.
While the proposed merger sailed through a U.S. Department of Justice review without conditions, key congressional Democrats had urged the FCC to impose limits designed to protect consumers.