July 24, 2008
FCC Vote on XM and Sirius Expected
On Wednesday, the FCC agreed to fine XM Satellite Radio Holdings and Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. $17.5 million and $2.2 million, respectively, to resolve the issue of interference the satellite radios cause with land-based radio stations. The two radio companies are 16 months into an attempt to merge. The DOJ approved the buyout in March. The FCC is expected to vote on and approve the deal today.
The vote on approving the buyout is currently 2-2 with Republican Deborah Taylor Tate still undecided.
The vote on the buyout will apparently be split along party lines. Democratic commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein have voted against the merger while Chairman Kevin Martin and fellow Republican commissioner Robert McDowell have voted in favor.
Adelstein had sought further concessions from the company but withdrew his offer on Wednesday. Following concessions by the companies, Tate is expected to vote in favor of the deal which would allow it to go through.
Housing Market Legislation Update
On Wednesday, President Bush dropped his opposition to the current housing market legislation despite his objections to a $3.9 billion provision. It includes about $15 billion in housing tax breaks, including a credit of up to $7,500 for first-time home buyers for people who bought homes between April 9, 2008, and July 1, 2009. It also allows people who do not itemize their taxes to claim a $500-$1,000 deduction on their 2008 property taxes. That benefits homeowners who have paid off their homes and cannot claim a deduction for mortgage interest. The bill would increase the statutory limit on the national debt by $800 billion, to $10.6 trillion.
The bill further sets a cap of $625,000 on the loans that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may buy and the FHA may insure. However, it also lets them purchase and back mortgages up to 15 percent above the median home price in some areas.