Liberty Media owns 40 per cent of Sirius-XM and has made no secret that despite its shareholding influence over the pay-radio broadcaster, it would like to formally take ownership of the Sirius and XM operating licences. It applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in March for the FCC’s approval.
On May 4, the FCC refused Liberty Media’s application, saying Liberty’s application failed to show that it was in full control of Sirius-XM, and that its filing did not have the necessary signatures and passwords from Sirius-XM to show that it had such control.
Liberty Media has five of Sirius-XM’s board seats, although CEO Mel Karmazin last week (speaking at the broadcaster’s results conference) said this was a case where 50 [per cent] is not the new 40!
However, Liberty may yet bounce back. Liberty paid $530 million back in 2009 as part of a rescue move to keep Sirius-XM out of bankruptcy. It has made no secret that it wants to take control of the now increasingly valuable pay-radio sector, and where Sirius-XM has 22.3 million subscribers.
Karmazin said last week that Sirius-XM was not “combative” as regards its largest shareholder, only that: “If the time comes that Liberty’s interests are different than the other 60 per cent of shareholders, we will do what we have to do to protect the interest of our 60 per cent of shareholders”.