The bride doesn't have cold feet. The groom doesn't have cold feet. They're just still waiting for the minister to show up.
The satellite-radio stars want to get hitched as quickly as possible, to get their synergies flowing. But they have to keep waiting on the regulators -- in this case, both the Department of Justice and the FCC -- that have refused to rule on this proposed merger, which was announced 375 days ago.
No one appears more incensed about the regulatory foot-dragging than CNBC's Jim Cramer. This week alone, he has ripped into the delay on both his own Mad Money show and as a guest on Jimmy Kimmel's late-night program. He isn't sparing any blows, either. He's accused certain members of Congress who have supposedly warmed up to terrestrial-radio lobbyists for slowing the deal's approval process.
To be fair, XM, Sirius, and the National Association of Broadcasters have all spent their share of lobbying money over the past year. But still, who doesn't get a kick out of Cramer when he's in pit-bull mode?
I may not spring for the tinfoil headwear required to buy into his conspiracy theories, but I'm completely shocked to see that it takes more than a year to decide on a merger in this digital information age.
Some may argue that time is on the side of XM and Sirius. Digital audio innovations have evolved around them -- including cars with MP3-loaded hard drives and iPod jacks -- to the point at which it's laughable to consider the XM-Sirius alliance a monopoly on eardrums.
However, time cuts both ways. Every quarter that regulators don't make a decision, the two companies incur steeper losses in growing their subscriber bases.
Sure, regulators don't have a fiduciary duty to shareholders. However, since XM and Sirius have already made concessions, such as offering lower-priced tiers and interoperability of receivers after the deal is approved, regulators are cheating both shareholders and consumers out of money.
More importantly, if regulators and lawmakers feel lobbyist pressure to nix the deal, then someone sees a combination as a competitive threat -- which in itself invalidates the theory that an XM-Sirius union creates a monopoly.
So keep shouting it from the rooftops, Cramer. I never thought I'd say this, but I've got your back.
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