The inability to refinance debt amid weak economic conditions could spell doom for
XM Satellite Radio
Sirius Satellite Radio
(SIRI - Get Report)
, if their proposed merger fails to win the support of dueling regulators.
The stocks for both companies have seesawed this week, skyrocketing Monday after Federal Communications Commission head Kevin Martin threw his support behind the deal, then falling again Tuesday after fellow commissioner Michael Copps cast doubts on whether approval is finally near.
"As I've said from the beginning, this merger is a steep climb for me," Copps said late Monday in a statement. "That hasn't changed ... I have not pushed for any conditions that would support a finding that the transaction is in the public interest."
As FCC commissioner Robert McDowell has disagreed with the chairman on many issues, and with Copps skeptical about the XM-Sirius deal, Martin will need to convince commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Deborah Taylor Tate that the deal should be approved.
Of course, Martin has outlined several stipulations for the deal. According to FCC staff sources, Martin wants the combined entity to offer smaller packages at lower prices; and prices should not increase for three years after the deal. Martin wants interoperable radios within one year to be compatible with both services, and wants XM and Sirius to agree to an open standard for manufacturing of radios. Additionally, XM and Sirius will provide additional public interest channels, and that service will be extended to Puerto Rico, where neither currently offers service.