Is this what we're down to? The FCC is sending out a questionnaire to Sirius (NASDAQ:SIRI) and XM (NASDAQ:XMSR), requesting even more information? It wants to know about content overlap and radio interoperability. Hmmm. Don't you think these questions could have been raised when the merger was first announced nearly nine months ago?

A lot has happened in that time. An entire baseball season has played itself out, and those cats play more than 160 games before heading into the postseason!

Then again, this is probably the most encouraging sign yet that the two companies will be allowed to combine within the next few months, if not sooner. The deal regulators are now like a girl at the bar who has dodged your advances but hasn't shot you down completely. All Mel Karmazin needs now is one more drink and the perfect pickup line to seal the deal.

A hookup didn't seem possible back in February. There were too many negative precedents, including the satellite television deal between DIRECTV (NYSE:DTV) and DISH Network parent EchoStar (NASDAQ:DISH) that was shot down five years ago.

However, Sirius and XM have responded like champs to every hoop that they have been asked to jump through. They are now on record as saying that lower-priced plans will be available post-merger, a major sticking point with critics of the deal.

So now it's time for the FCC to jump through many of those hoops. If the deal goes through, which concessions must take place? Which assets need to be sold off? What assurances must it require?

XM and Sirius are likely to comply. Both companies continue to lose money as they grow their subscriber bases, though a combination would result in billions in realized savings. Now with more than 16 million subscribers combined, the long wait has actually worked to the deal's advantage.

It's not just the long baseball season that has played itself out. A lot has happened since February.

  • Some carmakers announced the availability of terrestrial radio-friendly HD receivers.
  • Audio jacks for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPods are standard equipment in even more cars.
  • Apple rolled out the iPhone and iPod Touch, making music even more portable via WiFi.
  • Napster (NASDAQ:NAPS) and RealNetworks (NASDAQ:RNWK) have grown their base of music service subscribers.

It all adds up to an even more competitive landscape in audio content delivery than where we were when XM and Sirius were proposing to get hitched.

The FCC's got questions? I know why. It's because it already knows the inevitable answer.

Other things to read before the wedding invitation arrives:

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is such a big satellite radio fan that he subscribes to both XM and Sirius. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is a member of the Rule Breakers analytical team, seeking out the next great growth stock early in its defiance. The Fool's disclosure policy always makes it to the church on time.