XM and Sirius Consider Merger

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.

formatting link
Comment: As long-time Telecom-Digest readers know, I've long been an advocate of classical music radio. During my years in the cable TV industry, I argued in favor of carrying classical-music FM stations (particularly WFMT) on cable FM. I never had much success with that argument, and by the 1990s, cable FM was all but dead. Most cable systems now carry one of the two digital audio services, DMX Music or Music Choice.

formatting link
DBS companies carried those same digital audio services for several years: DirecTV carried Music Choice and Sirius carried DMX Music. A year or so ago, both companies switched to satellite radio: DirecTV switched to XM and Echostar (Dish Network) switched to Sirius. As a DirecTV subscriber, I ended up with XM.

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
formatting link
and it is a service of EGI Hosting.com . 24 hours per day, just constant music of the type desired. I am told many people who desire music on their web pages simply embed it on their sites. One thing EGI Hosting does is technical maintainence of audio streams and they sell you your very own 'radio station' if you wish. All sorts of 'alternative' audio streams are available on EGI Hosting, and quite inexpensive; a lot less than what a 'regular' radio station over the air would cost to operate. They also provide URLs; its up to you to advertise your 'radio station' and sell advertising if desired, and staff it. You can operate out of a corner in your basement if you wish, with an internet link to EGI Hosting; they take it from there. Another good example of this is 'Radio Dizzy, 66' which comes out of Europe but in English with hourly international newscasts amd some specialized programs. Being strictly internet, all these stations avoid the sometimes messy problems with the United States FCC. I was amazed when searching Google to find many, many internet-only based stations. And a smart person can easily figure out how to embed these streams in other web sites, etc, making sure to observe copyright. PAT]
Reply to
Neal McLain
Loading thread data ...

Cabling-Design.com Forums website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.