FCC's Adelstein Drags Out XM-Sirius Review Even More
from the unbridled-discretion dept
As we predicted last month, the FCC's approval process for the XM-Sirius merger continues to drag on. This is becoming absurd. The merger was announced almost 18 months ago, which should have been more than enough time for the FCC to reach a decision, or at least come up with its merger conditions for the companies to consider. Yet it was only last month that Chairman Martin came up with his initial proposed conditions, and now Commissioner Adelstein is proposing even more restrictions as a condition of approving the deal. As I've pointed out before, the way antitrust law is enforced is problematic because of the unbridled decision it gives to government bureaucrats.
Adelstein's laundry list of merger conditions appears to have no particular connection to preventing the abuse of monopoly power, the supposed purpose of antitrust law. For example, he would require a 6-year freeze on price increases. If he believes the merged company would have too much market power, then he should vote to deny the merger. If, on the other hand, the merged company would not have too much market power, then a price freeze isn't necessary because competition will be sufficient to keep prices down. But the idea that they have too much monopoly power today, but won't in 6 years, doesn't make a lot of sense. His other major requirement, more minority-owned and non-profit channels, has even less connection to limiting the firm's market power. More minority-owned radio stations may or may not be good policy, but it has nothing to do with antitrust law, and it seems problematic for the FCC to impose those sorts of requirements as part of the merger review process.