Despite the fact that it just ushered XM/Sirius one step closer to the altar in their 5B attempt to exchange wedding vows, the Department of Justice is signaling that it is about to get tough on mergers with antitrust implications. According to the Associated Press, top DOJ antitrust official Thomas Barnett has pledged to pursue aggressive enforcement where it is appropriate. The vow comes on the heels of analyst suggestions that dicey mergers get their act together fast in order to take advantage of sleepy antitrust watchdogs that may well be out of work once a new administration replaces officials put in place by the Bush administration. Both DOJ and FTC officials are saying that this is not necessarily good advice, and that they will be fully on the job.
RBR/TVBR observation: It took over a year, but when the decision finally came down, it was apparent that DOJ must have simply been having trouble getting the red carpet dry cleaned, because it didn’t append condition one to the XM/Sirius merger blessing. No "We promise to honor and obey our customers by giving them the same quality programming at the same low price, until the end of the subscription term or five years do us part" or anything. So it’s good to know they finally located the antitrust goalie gear and are going to begin enforcing the law before returning to the private sector — if in fact it’s anything more than lip service.