XM and Sirius Consider Merger
By Peter B. de Selding Space News Staff Writer
PARIS -- The two big U.S. satellite-radio companies, XM and Sirius, reported sharply contrasting performance in 2006 but agree that a merger would result in substantial cost savings and might even pass muster with U.S. regulators.
After listening to XM's two classical channels (VOX and XM Classics) for the past year, I've become a fan of sorts. Their announcers generally sound like they know what they're talking about, and they usually pronounce foreign languages correctly. In great contrast to Music Choice, XM actually does offer choice. Both classical channels carry a huge variety of music, including many historic recordings.
Given my long-standing advocacy of WFMT, I can't help comparing XM with WFMT:
- XM Classics carries numerous live concert recordings, many from the WFMT Radio Network.
- XM is non-commercial: unlike WFMT, it carries no advertising. But XM's prerecorded station breaks are idiotic and annoying. Given the obvious close association between XM and WFMT, I wish XM would adopt WFMT's policy of having all station breaks delivered by the live (even if tape-delayed) announcer.
- XM's listeners are loyal bunch, just as WFMT's listeners were. Each channel seems to have its own fan base, with an e-mail mailing list. Robert Aubrey Davis, producer of VOX, often remarks about the loyalty of his audience. And he even answers his e-mail!
All in all, I feel vindicated. After all those years in the cable industry when I was unsuccessfully advocating classical music, the DBS companies (cable's archrivals, no less) have proven my thesis: classical music is a salable product.
So now comes the news that XM and Sirius may merge. Economically, that makes sense -- I've always suspected that it might happen, especially in light of the fact that neither company is yet profitable.
But I'm concerned about what may happen to the classical channels if they merge. Sirius carries the Metropolitan Opera's new channel which I'd like to hear. But I'm afraid that a merged company would drop XM VOX in the process of consolidating their channel lineups. I'd certainly miss VOX.
I guess I'll just have to wait and see.
Neal McLain[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: A very good service I found on internet while looking one day for streaming radio stations was a service called '1.FM'. It is strictly internet, with about thirty channels of music available, ranging from rock and popular music through classical, baroque and opera. You will find it at