'A La Carte' Satellite Radio Likely Requires New Receivers
March 27, 2008 at 6:45 AM (PT)
SIRIUS SATELLITE RADIO and XM SATELLITE RADIO are pegging regulatory approval of their merger to giving consumers more control over the specific channels they buy. There's one catch, writes THE BALTIMORE SUN: Customers may need new radios at up to $200 a pop if they want to be able to select specific channels, something they can't do now.
The Justice Department gave the green light MONDAY to SIRIUS' acquisition of XM and the companies are pitching the benefits of "a la carte" programming to the FCC, which must also sign off on the deal. The companies would offer "the first-ever a la carte options in subscription media," they said late MONDAY.
XM and SIRIUS obtain most customers through automakers, who offer the radios and the service in new cars. But carmakers require lead times of several years to update dashboards with new products. THOMAS BARNETT, Assistant Attorney General heading the Justice Department's Antitrust Division, said yesterday that agency officials concluded the radios would take two to three years to be available from automakers.
After the Justice Department cleared the deal this week, both companies said "no existing radio will be made obsolete by the merger." The company's 17 million subscribers would be able to receive select programming from the provider they don't currently subscribe to on existing radios, the companies said.
They haven't specified whether popular programming, such as SIRIUS' HOWARD STERN or XM's major league baseball, would be part of the "select programming" available.