• Feb 27, 2007
There are a lot of questions surrounding the proposed merger of competing satellite radio providers XM and Sirius. USA Today had a chance to ask a few to Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin, the would-be CEO of the two companies if the merger is allowed to take place. Below are some bullet points from the interview with answers to the most burning questions.
  • Fees would not likely be raised above $12.95/month
  • Dual receiver radios will likely be available that can receive both XM and Sirius content
  • People with radios that receive only one service can continue to receive just that service
  • Both brands and services will remain intact
  • Live, real-time satellite television will be offered
It's still not clear to us, at least, how exactly this merger will work. Karmazin says that content from service will be available to subscribers of the other service soon after the merger goes through, but it isn't clear whether those subscribers will need to purchase a compatible receiver, perhaps a dual receiver, or if XM channels will be broadcast across the Sirius network and vice versa. We'd also like to know what effect the merger will have on automakers who have already aligned themselves with one service and have been installing Sirius or XM receivers in their vehicles for years now. Clearly there are cost savings that can be realized, otherwise the merger would never have been proposed, but we're wondering if the imminent confusion caused by the merger will hurt the two brands in the long run.

[Source: USA Today via Kicking Tires]


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  • 14 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      I don't understand why they can't poll both Sirius and XM subscribers to find out what their favorite channels are. Drop the least popular channels (of each genre) from each service's line-up and then broadcast the same content over both Sirius and XM networks (so that those with either receiver will be hearing the same thing).

      Then you don't have issues with choosing XM content or Sirius content or both. Each company can put less time and money into the programming and the customer doesn't have to purchase new hardware.

      Wise up Sat. Radio.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Tom Walker wrote (No. 1) "he hardware is my biggest concern too. My Mazda6 has a really nicely integrated factory Sirius system, and I am not liking the idea of having to stick some tacky XM box on my dash to get the content I want."

      Clearly what is going to happen is that Sirius audio streams will be added to XM's current offerings and vice-versa. For example, Sirius subscribers will be able to hear Major League Baseball and Oprah. XM subscribers will be able to hear Howard Stern and NFL football games.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I definitely do not want one CEO running the only two satellite radio companies in existence. They'll be able to charge whatever they want. This is the epitome of a monopoly, and there's no way the federal trade commission will allow this merger to go through. I also like not having to support a company that supports a particular talk show clown.
      • 7 Years Ago
      This isn't going to go through because the basis of their argument is that platforms are the competition (satrad vs. ipod vs. HD Radio vs. AM/FM). It's bogus because if the FCC accepts that then they would have no legal way to stop Clear Channel from buying up ALL the radio stations or having only one satellite TV provider or one national cable company.

      If it would happen though, they'd surely combine all the music stations and eliminate duplication. The news and talk stations could be combined to some degree. There are only a handful of channels with truly unique content (Stern, O&A, Oprah, etc.) It's absolutely feasible to put the same lineup on both networks.

      I have XM and sure I'd like to have the Sirius content added for the same price. But they absolutely would not keep the price down and they'd probably try the ala carte crap again to make you pay for the "premium" channels. It'll be a bad thing if this gets approved.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I don't think the monopoly argument applies in this instance. It there were multiple other satellite stations and this would force them out of business then it might apply. But this is a case of having one satellite radio company survive rather than having two fail. If there were no satellite companies and one was starting up, they wouldn't tell them they could not do it because it would be a monopoly. The merger should be quickly approved.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I've been an XM subscriber for over a year now and have enjoyed XM since. I've also subscribed to Sirius before moving to XM since they have much deeper playlists than Sirius. I just hope XMs massive playlist and channels stay the same. I was annoyed at Siriu's music channels, they would often repeat the same garbage over and over like it's free radio. I just hope the merged company doesn't dilute my XM playlists with Sirius crap music channels.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I see most of these comments as shortsighted. There is clearly a strong financial case to be made for merging these two nacent companies, and there is a strong case for the consumer as well. Increasing prices will not be a benefit for these two companies, as it would slow adoption and retention. The two companies can generate more money (1+1=3) in terms of audience share in the advertising markets as a combined entity.

      Overall, as a subscriber to both services, I welcome the idea of the merger. Sat Radio will evolve like any other new medium, and should be permitted to do so.

      A much bigger issue here is to watch as the "Content Police" try to squeeze XM and Sirius on their uncensored content. They may not do it overtly, but it will happen. These are the same lobbys that want to tell you what their version of free speech is. There is surely to be a lot of that going on in the cloakrooms on the Hill.

      At the end of the day, its just radio, and its a choice. No one is forced to buy it, or listen to it.
      I'm sure all the consumers that subscribe to both services would like to see this medium prosper, and I believe that a merger would allow that to happen faster, which will be better for consumers.

      There is a reason why 13 Million people have left regular radio for sattelite. Its the content, stupid!
      They (regular radio) are now arguing for more regulation from the Justice department and the FCC, when it has been regulation that has caused commercial radio content to become homogonized and boring.

      Its also quite clear that Madison Avenue has to look at people who are willingn to pay for specific content as more valuable demographically than people that wont or dont pay for content.

      Mel Karmazin has a track record of doing the right thing for listeners and shareholders alike as a radio broadcast executive, I'd give the guy some lee-way on this deal.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I hope they don't add more stations, as their bandwidth is seriously overtaxed as it is. Too many stations nobody listens to, and not enough bandwidth to make the only one that you like sound decent. Decrease channels, increase bitrate.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The hardware is my biggest concern too. My Mazda6 has a really nicely integrated factory Sirius system, and I am not liking the idea of having to stick some tacky XM box on my dash to get the content I want. I'm not so worried about the price since as a Sirius subscriber I was already paying the higher of the two rates. On an annual basis it's really not bad.

      Oh, and they had darn well better keep my Sirius music stations commercial free!!!!!!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Can you say 8-track? Sat radio will disappear, mostly because these companies have horrible financials and will ruin their product by allowing commercials to slowly take over their channels. They can't help it since it is the only revenue stream that could save them. But, once their channels are rife with advertising, why would anyone want to pay a subscription fee? They won't. Nor will they want to pay for the hardware to accept the content since cars will have all sorts of other interesting audio options available like HD radio.

      Bye bye, XM and Sirius.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I don't like them messing with my commute entertainment...
      • 7 Years Ago
      Frankly, I'm glad. We just bought a CR-V with XM built in and are Sirius subscribers. I think they should combine both into one, keep all the sports and news from both and then maybe offer dual content at some point in the future with the two systems merged into one radio.
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