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FCC Nixes Satellite Radio Merger 277

Posted by kdawson
from the Howard-meet-Oprah dept.
a_nonamiss writes "Doesn't look like Sirius and XM are going to merge any time soon. I'm not sure how I feel about this one. Logically, I know that competition is a good thing for consumers, and monopolies are generally only good for companies. Still, I don't like having to choose a car based on which satellite radio service comes pre-installed, or considering whether I'd rather have Howard Stern or Oprah, because there is no practical way to get both. Frankly, it's probably all this exclusivity that has caused me not to purchase either system." From the article: "Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin told reporters after an FCC meeting that the Commission would not approve a merger between satellite radio rivals Sirius and XM Radio... When the FCC initially licensed the two satellite radio companies in 1997, there was language in the licensing barring one from acquiring control of the other... Even if the FCC were to have a change of heart..., it would still have to pass antitrust scrutiny by the Department of Justice."
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FCC Nixes Satellite Radio Merger

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  • Go with logic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KingSkippus (799657) * on Monday January 22, 2007 @07:11PM (#17716848) Homepage Journal

    Go with what your brain knows to be true, not what your heart desires for the short-term.

    I don't like having to choose a car based on which satellite radio service comes pre-installed

    So don't. Either choose your radio service based on what is installed in the car, or have a satellite radio system for whichever system you want installed by a third-party store. Problem solved!

    Frankly, it's probably all this exclusivity that has caused me not to purchase either system.

    Actually, there's really not a lot of exclusivity between the two services. They both have rock stations, rap stations, country stations, etc. I didn't even know that Oprah had a show on XM, and I only know that Stern has a show on Sirius because of all of the hoopla around him leaving the broadcast airwaves. I think that the NFL prefers one service over another, and past that, I really don't know of anything else except maybe some talk personalities that I've probably never heard of.

    So as long as the services are separate, you'll have to live without either Oprah or Stern (neither of which, in my humble opinion, is much of a sacrifice). But each service also has to be price-competitive and service-competitive to keep you from switching. They have to periodically roll out new features and improve the quality of existing features to keep up with the other. And they have to pay Joe Talkshow a decent salary to keep him from going to the other. Those things, again in my humble opinion, are preferable to having Oprah and Stern on just one service.

    That antitrust scrutiny is there for a reason, and in this case, it's very well justified.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by twostar (675002)
      No no no, you got it all wrong. You're suppose to say "FP!"
    • Yech! (Score:4, Funny)

      by MoxFulder (159829) on Monday January 22, 2007 @07:26PM (#17717010) Homepage
      ... or considering whether I'd rather have Howard Stern or Oprah, because there is no practical way to get both. Frankly, it's probably all this exclusivity that has caused me not to purchase either system."

      Frankly, it's the idea of giving any of my money to either Howard Stern or Oprah that has held me back from getting satellite radio service.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Soporific (595477)
        That's why you never had cable television either right? Because Stern was on E! too...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by alshithead (981606) *
      "Actually, there's really not a lot of exclusivity between the two services."

      Respectfully, I think the statement above argues for the merger, not against. Also, I think the FCC really blew it when they initially allowed this service and mandated that no mergers would be allowed from the get go. With only two services going in as startups on a brand new technology being released to the public, you are almost guaranteeing that one will fail eventually. It might be a different story if there had been a coup
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by iocat (572367)
        Actually, part of that 1997 license also said neither service could prevent someone from making a device that received BOTH services. But no one has done it yet. I for one would welcome a new XM/Sirius/FM/AM one-device overlord. Until then... I'll stick with XM.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by alshithead (981606) *
          "Actually, part of that 1997 license also said neither service could prevent someone from making a device that received BOTH services. But no one has done it yet. I for one would welcome a new XM/Sirius/FM/AM one-device overlord. Until then... I'll stick with XM."

          Fantastic point! Choice is a great equalizer. Let the market decide if the merger is desirable. If both XM and Sirius were available in one device the market could decide by sheer number of those that subscribe to both as to whether the merger s
    • by fair_n_hite_451 (712393) <crsteel@NoSPAm.shaw.ca> on Monday January 22, 2007 @07:29PM (#17717060)
      Regardless of what the FCC pronounces from on high, there will be only one satellite radio provider within a couple of years. Market forces currently dictate that both companies cannot continue to bleed money at the rate they are doing and have any hope of long-term survival.
       
      In fact, the tin foil hatter in me would probably suggest that big radio conglomerates like ClearChannel are actively lobbying behind the scenes to make sure that Sirius and XM can never join forces - in the hopes that they successfully kill them both, to allow re-entry into the market by those that missed the boat the first time.
       
      Personally, I love my XM, and don't ever listen to local radio any more. More choice, less commercials, NHL radio broadcasts from several different markets every night? Why would I ever go back. Commercial radio listening is dropping like so many "buggy whip manufacturers 3 year outlook" and they know damned well that Satellite is taking a big chunk. (Not all, as others have already suggested, iPods and mp3 players are also changing how people listen to music).
       
      One or the other is going to go belly up, and then what is the FCC going to say? "No, you're not allowed to woo former customers, because that would create a monopoly?"
       
      How stupid is that?
      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Monday January 22, 2007 @08:17PM (#17717562) Homepage Journal
        Let's not bullshit each other. When XM and Sirius start kicking political contributions at the level of your ClearChannels and your CBS, or just do the "All GOP, All the Time" approach of the Salem Radio Network, then you'll see that maybe the FCC isn't quite so firm about this unwillingness to allow a merger.

        We just saw a decade of media consolidation at a level unseen outside of the Kremlin, and all of a sudden, the FCC is gonna start watching out for the consumer? Please.

        The FCC has abrogated its responsibility to Americans a long time ago. Their "protection" of the citizens' ownership of the broadcast spectrum disappeared faster than an envelope full of hundreds down Duke Cunningham's (R, CA) jacket pocket. Maybe, just maybe, if a couple of the paleo-liberals like my boy Dennis Kucinich (crazy as he is) put the fear of god back into the hearts of the cake-eaters who currently own the media with his earnest (if improbable, and unworkable) threat of a return to "Fairness" (Fairness! Perish the thought!!) then we might see a few cracks in the walls of the Great Fortress of Trickle-Down Truthiness known as the Media. And maybe, when that happens, we might again see a little daylight between what the consumers of information in this country want and what our government will allow us to have.

        Of course, I always hold out the hope that some leaders will emerge that have a few shreds of decency, and that they might get elected, but then again, I'm high.
      • by jhutcheson (1054640) on Monday January 22, 2007 @09:11PM (#17718128)
        I hate to break it to you, but the tin foil hatter in you is uninformed.. Clear Channel has a sizable investment + content deals with XM, thus they aren't really losing much in the scheme of things. Advertising is what it is (media buys haven't really changed a whole lot) and Arbitron ratings are perpetually bs anyway. Clear Channel is effectively realizing revenue from XM that it would have not gotten otherwise, so it is merely an addition. Provided that the value of their 8.3 million shares has increased since obtaining them - that will also be more cash for the kitty.

        The info below via Wikipedia:

        Clear Channel programming agreement

        As part of terrestrial radio giant Clear Channel Communications' early investment into XM in 1998, the companies entered into agreements which provided for certain programming and director designation arrangements as long as Clear Channel retained the full amount of its original investment in XM. One consequence of this was that XM had (and still has) exclusive programming rights to all Clear Channel content, including popular national shows like Glenn Beck and Coast to Coast AM. In June 2003, Clear Channel entered into a forward sales agreement relating to its ownership of XM. During the third quarter of 2005, Clear Channel and XM arbitrated the impact of this agreement on the Operational Assistance Agreement and the Director Designation Agreement. The Arbitration Panel decided that the Operational Assistance Agreement would remain in effect, including Clear Channel's right to receive a revenue share of commercial advertising on programming it provides to XM, but declined to enforce the Director Designation Agreement. Per the original agreement, Clear Channel has the right to program 409.6 kbit/s of XM bandwidth, including forcing XM to include commercial advertising. The current plans for this bandwidth will include up to 5 music channels including: XM11 Nashville!, XM21 KISS, XM22 Mix, XM24 Sunny, and the relaunch of WSIX on XM161 plus the existing talk channel programming (XM165 Talk Radio, XM152 Extreme XM, XM142 Fox Sports Radio, and XM173 WLW). Plans to introduce new regional based talk channels, which would have featured a local 2-3 minute newscast for each area of the country, were cancelled. The music channel advertising is expected to be limited to the 5-6 minute per hour maximum that was in place prior to XM taking its music channels commercial-free in 2004.

        Seen as a blow to XM's 100% commercial-free music channel status, XM Executive Vice President of Programming Eric Logan released a programming announcement to XM subscribers on the company's website that reiterated XM's commitment to commercial-free music while noting that XM still had the most commercial-free music and that more commercial-free music channels will be added in the near future to ensure that XM will still have more commercial-free music than competitor Sirius Satellite Radio. On April 17, 2006, XM launched US Country (XM17), Flight 26 (XM26), XM Hitlist (XM30) and Escape (XM78) to provide commercial free music in the formats of the Clear Channel programmed music channels which were going to begin airing commercials. In response, Sirius has displayed that they are the only satellite radio provider that is 100% commercial free with music. Both XM and Sirius air commercials on their news, talk, and sports channels.

        The Clear Channel forward sales agreement with Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc is set to expire in 2008, at which time Clear Channel is expected to deliver to Bear Stearns over 8.3 million shares in XM -- which is their original investment -- however Clear Channel withholds the right to settle with cash. If Clear Channel settles with shares, then it would be expected at that time that Clear Channels' Operational Assistance Agreement with XM would terminate, along with any and all programming provided by Clear Channel.
    • by Chris Burke (6130)
      That antitrust scrutiny is there for a reason, and in this case, it's very well justified.

      You make some very good points and I lean toward agreeing with you, but at the same time, I'm not quite certain.

      For instance, why is AM/FM radio not considered a legitimate competitor to satellite? Considered as a single "radio" market, neither XM nor Sirrius have significant marketshare, nor would they after a merger (well, I assume, I have no numbers, but I also have only one aquaintence with satellite radio). Sure
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by drinkypoo (153816)
        For instance, why is AM/FM radio not considered a legitimate competitor to satellite?

        There are places where neither really works, but satellite is fine. Almost the only places where the reverse is true are underground or outside the aim of the satellite's antenna[e?].

      • by Babbster (107076)
        The reason that standard AM/FM can't be considered by the anti-trust folks as competition for a Sirius/XM "super service" is that, though there are a couple of big companies on top of the broadcast radio heap, it's still possible for other companies to get frequencies and start broadcasting. So, while Clear Channel owns several stations in a particular market, they don't (and can't, legally) own all of them. The way the satellite companies are currently set up, they each control all of the channels on the
    • by nizo (81281) * on Monday January 22, 2007 @07:42PM (#17717196) Homepage Journal
      Yeah but what if instead of looking at reliability, gas mileage, or overall customer satisfaction I would prefer to make my next $30,000+ auto purchase based on which satellite radio comes with the car?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nwbvt (768631)

      "I think that the NFL prefers one service over another, and past that, I really don't know of anything else except maybe some talk personalities that I've probably never heard of."

      Its not that the NFL 'prefers' one over the other, its that the NFL is only on one (Sirius), while other sports (baseball, hockey, college sports) are only on the other (XM). Thats where people get upset over having to choose between one or the other, if you are a big sports fan you have to choose between listening to football

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Thats where people get upset over having to choose between one or the other, if you are a big sports fan you have to choose between listening to football or baseball on your XM radio.

        Yeah, but why are they upset at anyone other than the agencies (like the NFL, NBA etc) who are signing these exclusivity contracts? They aren't good for the consumer, after all. They serve only to pad certain corporate pockets. Guess it's just the irrationality of the yokels who consume this content. Note that I realize it doe

    • No Exclusivity? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kosanovich (678657)

      Actually, there's really not a lot of exclusivity between the two services.

      That completely depends on what you listen to. If you are looking for generic "rock" channels or "country" music then you will find both on the two services. But if you are like me and bought satellite radio so you can still catch the sporting events on those 12 hour road trips then you had better decide what you like best.

      If you like college sports, MLB or NHL then you had better choose XM. If you like NFL or NBA then you had better choose Sirius. There is no way to listen to college football and later th

    • Re:Go with logic (Score:5, Insightful)

      by honkycat (249849) on Monday January 22, 2007 @08:01PM (#17717400) Homepage Journal
      The broken thing with this whole business is that the systems do not interoperate.

      Standard broadcast radio and cable TV have competition between channels, not between technologies. Cable has the local providers as well, acting as intermediaries to sell access to the stations to the end users. You don't have to have a separate TV to watch CBS and ABC since they both come in on the same technology.

      There's not even a problem selling various levels of access -- you can opt for premium channels or not, and often pick and choose channel-by-channel. Sure, there's "piracy," but the business is still profitable.

      Satellite radio needs to adopt this type of competition. The monolithic system it's using now is braindead, for exactly the reason that Sirius and XM would consider merging if they'd been permitted.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kinglink (195330)
      Logic != Good logic.

      You bring up the NFL and that reminds me of another issue that is quite common. The Dish Network's stranglehold over NFL to the point where if you watch the NFL on cable you get 5-6 games a week, this is in a sporting even that has easily double that. Don't live in Boston? You're not getting the Patriots. Don't live in Green bay? You'll only see your packers a couple times a year. So who is helped out by this contract? Dish Network. Who is hurt? Everyone else.

      The problem is this id
      • by Babbster (107076)
        While I don't disagree with your points, I consider it important to note that it is DirecTV, not Dish Network, that has the exclusive NFL contract.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by trcooper (18794) *
      There really is a lot of exclusivity. Yes, on the surface, the music offerings are very similar between the two. Each has their own specialty stations in the music area, but for the most part that's a wash.

      Sirius then of course has Stern's channels, which offer more programming than just his show. There are two other 4 hour 'shock jock' talk shows with Bubba the Love Sponge and Ferrell. Then a ton of once a week shows that they run as well. XM has Opie and Anthony which I understand is also simocast on
  • by Anonymous Coward
    About two years ago I was on the verge of getting a satellite radio subscription .. And then I discovered the iPod. These days any money that I might have considered spending on a satellite radio subscription (with those ridiculous contracts) just gets spent on larger & larger iPods for my wife and I. Both broadcast and satellite radio have become irrelevant in our lives.
    • by benzapp (464105) on Monday January 22, 2007 @07:33PM (#17717110)
      If you aren't really into to obscure music, I could understand this being true. If however, you miss the days of radio actually exposing you to unique and interesting music - XM Radio is a great place. In particular XM 72, Beyond Jazz, is one of the few places you'll get to hear unique and interesting jazz that is way off the beaten path. I live in moderatey well known, but by no means famous, Brooklyn neighborhood with a small (say 800 square foot) bar known as Barbes [barbesbrooklyn.com]. A great jazz violinist known as Jenny Scheinman [jennyscheinman.com] was on this station. She probably has never been on the radio in NYC or anywhere else, but for that moment, anyone in the world had a chance to hear a great musician you once only could hear in this crazy small music venue.

      XM Radio truly gives the average American an opportunity to hear music they never would even know how to find, and that's a good thing. I'm willing to pay $10 a month so serious music fiends can play good music without the undo influence of payola and advertiser pressure.

      Oh, and yes, I've found tons of artists I never heard of on XM Radio, some so obscure you can't even find it on any common P2P network.
      • by nizo (81281) *
        Hopefully she will become more popular here [www.last.fm]. Then again, sites like that on the web are were I find new artists, though it is a much more active process than listening to random folks on the radio.
        • by benzapp (464105)
          And you still aren't paying for an "expert" opinion. I'm not going to go to a site like that and listen to untold hundreds of hours of music. My time is worth much more than that.

          The point is, XM Radio is like going to a small obscure music venue - DJ's on XM Radio actually go to these venues, I've met them. I don't have the time or energy to go to bars every night listening to music, but... XM Radio is the next best thing.
      • It's not exactly portable, but I've found that Pandora (pandora.com) is a great place to find new artists based on stuff you know. I listen to it all day at work and write down artists that I then go home and buy albums from.
    • by The Good Reverend (84440) <michael@nOsPaM.michris.com> on Monday January 22, 2007 @08:16PM (#17717536) Homepage Journal
      That's fine. I want new music, old music I forgot I liked, old music I never heard/appreciated the first time, and an large variety of stations and content that's not music. I like my own music collection, too, but there's much more to satellite radio than stuff I already have.

      Oh, and my "ridiculous contract" is like $6/month. I hardly have any cheaper content subscriptions.
  • Open standards (Score:5, Interesting)

    by c0d3h4x0r (604141) on Monday January 22, 2007 @07:17PM (#17716920) Homepage Journal
    Still, I don't like having to choose a car based on which satellite radio service comes pre-installed, or considering whether I'd rather have Howard Stern or Oprah, because there is no practical way to get both.

    You could solve this with a monopoly offering a single proprietary solution.

    Or you could enforce that both Sirius and XM adhere to and publish an open standard, such that a single receiver device can be used to tune in both. If the FCC had balls and were ethical, that's what they'd have done.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fishybell (516991)

      Or you could enforce that both Sirius and XM adhere to and publish an open standard, such that a single receiver device can be used to tune in both.

      And then some clever entrepeneur makes a cheap receiver that receives both, but for free. Both XM and Sirrius would then be forced to make up their money via advertising.

      No thanks. The appeal of satellite radio is partially in the lack of advertising. I don't know how long this will last (remember that cable TV started out practically ad-free too), but it'

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by badboy_tw2002 (524611)
        That's why DirectTV has gone under...wait...

        I think the point here is that both stations control all three areas - content, broadcast, and receivers. Look at your television:

        Content producers make the stations - so you either have advertising models (NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, etc) or pay for models - (pay per view, HBO, Showtime, etc)

        Middle-men take the various content signals and consolidate them to their network - cable providers, direct TV, phone companies, and now things like Apple TV. Lockouts are put in p
    • Re:Open standards (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DogDude (805747) on Monday January 22, 2007 @07:35PM (#17717132) Homepage
      If the FCC had balls and were ethical, that's what they'd have done.

      Forcing a company to alter their product with the force of law is never ethical. Besides, this isn't a service using public airwaves. These are private satellites broadcasting to private subscribers. The government has no place in telling either XM or Sirius what they can and cannot do.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by pscottdv (676889)
        How exactly are the airwaves XM and Sirius use any less public than any other airwave? They use up bandwidth just like any other transmission service.

        I'll tell you what is unethical. The government telling me what I can and cannot do with electromagnetic signals that private companies beam right into my house without my permission.
        • by raehl (609729)
          I'll tell you what is unethical. The government telling me what I can and cannot do with electromagnetic signals that private companies beam right into my house without my permission.

          What's not ethical about that?

          The government is acting at the behest of the people. The people want broadcast services. Society is better off when we can send information around without having to use wires all the time. So, if we want to be able to send information without wires, we, as a society, need to have some rules abo
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by mangu (126918)
            What's not ethical about that?


            The fact that they are pushing their signals at me. They are sending me signals without me asking for it. Then the FCC says I cannot do whatever I want with the signals people sent me without me asking for it. It's like someone pushed a newspaper under my door and the FCC said I cannot read it unless I pay a $99.95/month subscription.


            If they don't want me to decode their signal, they shouldn't beam that signal at me.

            • by raehl (609729) <raehl311&yahoo,com> on Monday January 22, 2007 @09:33PM (#17718356) Homepage
              It's like someone pushed a newspaper under my door and the FCC said I cannot read it unless I pay a $99.95/month subscription.

              No, it's not like that. A newspaper is an object. By it's very nature, the only place it is is where you put it.

              Radio signals are not objects. When you broadcast a radio signal, by definition, it goes EVERYWHERE. That's what makes it useful.

              If they don't want me to decode their signal, they shouldn't beam that signal at me.

              OK, they don't want you to decode their signal, *AND* they aren't beaming it at you either. The signal is broadcast. It goes everywhere. Since your apparent reasoning is that you should be allowed to decode signals that are beamed at you, and the signal is not beamed at you, I guess we agree that you don't have any inherent right to decode the signal now, do you?

              We really shouldn't be talking about decoding the signal in the first place. You're not prohibited from decoding the signal because there's something special about signals themselves. What is being protected is the programming. The satellite company or whoever is providing programming to authorized recipients. The means of transmission happens to be EM radiation. You're not allowed to receive programming transmitted by EM radiation that happens to go through your house any more than you're allowed to receive programming transmitted by cable that happens to be buried in your back yard. And that's a MUCH better example than your newspaper one - it's like a cable company ran a cable through your backyard, and the law requires that you actually pay for cable to decode the signal.

              There's also another way to look at this. And that is, the radio spectrum in your house IS NOT YOURS. By decoding signals on spectrum that you don't own without the spectrum owner's permission, you're stealing their spectrum. Remember that owning land doesn't afford you unlimited property rights to all space above and below that surface. Some things - like air - are common, and radio spectrum is one of those things.
          • by drinkypoo (153816)
            What's not ethical about that?

            If it were ethical, portions of the radio spectrum would be handed out to those who will best serve society, not those who pay the most money in an auction.

            • If it were ethical, portions of the radio spectrum would be handed out to those who will best serve society, not those who pay the most money in an auction.
              How do you define who will best serve society?
              • by raehl (609729)
                How do you define who will best serve society?

                It's whoever bids the highest.
      • by AK Marc (707885)
        Forcing a company to alter their product with the force of law is never ethical.

        So the FDA's protections of the consumer with standards for drugs are unethical? Some people are glad that the unethical government forces drug companies to find and publish side effects.

        Besides, this isn't a service using public airwaves.

        By the FCC definition, all the EM spectrum belongs to the public (though they monitor and divy it up for out benefit). Thus, by the unethical governemnt you hate, all airwaves (includin
    • by Fat Cow (13247)
      The FCC doesn't have power over these companies - that's why Howard Stern went there in the first place
    • by anothy (83176)
      If the FCC had balls and were ethical, that's what they'd have done.
      to be fair, the FCC has fairly limited power (for very good reason), and particularly has little power (or rather, power only in constrained circumstances) to make technology mandates. it's entirely likely that by preventing XM and Sirius from merging, they're setting the stage for a market-driven interoperability play.
  • FM or AM? (Score:3, Informative)

    by MightyMait (787428) on Monday January 22, 2007 @07:19PM (#17716934) Journal
    I can see the point of having competition, but having incompatible hardware is going a bit too far, isn't it?

    What if, during the early days of broadcast TV, you had to chose between UHF and VHF? Or, with terestrial radio, FM and AM?

    Seems kinda screwy!!
    • by QuasiEvil (74356)
      If some radio company were smart, they'd build a combined receiver that could do either or both. There's the beauty of the free market for ya.

      Personally, I'm happy with just Sirius. They provide more than enough content to keep me interested on even the longest trip. And as for having to choose a car based on sat radio, that's just silly. You can adapt either system to most factory units with the appropriate adapters. Of course all of my Hondas have their stock sound ripped out and replaced anyway, so
      • by twostar (675002)
        http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=7961 468&st=satellite&type=product&id=1153336300075 [bestbuy.com]

        There's already quite a few decks that will play either. However, you still have to buy a service specific tuner, antenna and then the subscription. The front end however can play either.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by AK Marc (707885)
          That's a "seperate tuner required." For all I can tell, that means they have a jack your external satellite receiver to plug into. That means they do not support "satellite radio" any more than they support any external device, like an MP3 player. It seems that people would like to see the hardware pre-installed for both, as it is with some new cars where the satellite radio, antenna, and such is integrated into the car, except noone offers a single one that can play either.
  • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy@tpno-c[ ]rg ['o.o' in gap]> on Monday January 22, 2007 @07:19PM (#17716938) Homepage
    Where AT&T is allowed to consolidate and satellite radio is not.

    Regardless of the reasons, it looks awfully funny to those outside.
  • The only way I can see using satelite radio is if traditional radio broadcasters reduce power to the point of being unusable the way broadcast TV did...
    • by Ryokurin (74729)
      Its about having choice. What if you want to listen to Jazz but the area you live in only has pop, country and rock to offer? In the end this is just like people complaining about having to pay for Television when Cable was new.
    • by raehl (609729) <raehl311&yahoo,com> on Monday January 22, 2007 @07:54PM (#17717320) Homepage
      I have an XM subscription. Kills regular radio dead.

      - I live near Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Needless to say, the selection of stations is not exactly the broadest. Definite XM advantage here.
      - I frequently drive through areas with even LESS of a selection of stations than Eau Claire. XM is a godsend when you'd otherwise be spending hours driving through, say, Nebraska, listening to Country or Country.
      - No commercials on (most) XM stations! Listening to radio is much nicer when you're not constantly interrupted with whatever the radio promotion of the week is.
      - NO MORNING SHOWS! Well, actually, there are morning shows, but they don't TAKE OVER your regular radio stations and prevent you from listening to actual music.

      Now, maybe you personally don't want to pay for radio. That's fine. But there is no shortage of reasons why someone would be willing to pay for the features satellite radio offers over regular broadcast stations.
  • Still, I don't like having to choose a car based on which satellite radio service comes pre-installed, or considering whether I'd rather have Howard Stern or Oprah, because there is no practical way to get both.

    Is there anyone on the planet who wants to listen to BOTH Howard Stern AND Oprah?

    I would think the desire for one would automatically exclude the other.
    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday January 22, 2007 @07:24PM (#17716996) Homepage
      Is there anyone on the planet who wants to listen to BOTH Howard Stern AND Oprah?

      No, but you could have two people, each who want to listen to one of the two, but who would also like to share a sattelite radio service.

      How could such a mysterious circumstance come about? How should I know; I'm a slashdotter too.
      • How could such a mysterious circumstance come about? How should I know; I'm a slashdotter too.

        I don't know either, but I can tell you that Stern fans do not marry Oprah fans. Their DNA would magnetically repel them from each other.
        • by jZnat (793348) *
          Explain how my parents work then. My father's a Stern fan, and my mother's an Oprah fan. Doesn't make sense...
    • by drinkypoo (153816)
      Is there anyone on the planet who wants to listen to BOTH Howard Stern AND Oprah? I would think the desire for one would automatically exclude the other.

      Besides the other nicely logical responses around here there is the following: Lots of people in both camps probably listen to the radio show of the other camp so that they can know what to complain about around the water cooler instead of working.

      (Hooray for slashdot, I require neither of those lames.)

  • considering whether I'd rather have Howard Stern or Oprah, because there is no practical way to get both.
    Here's a tip to anyone trying to choose between Howard Stern and Oprah: you don't exist.
  • by HaeMaker (221642) on Monday January 22, 2007 @07:23PM (#17716986) Homepage
    I can get a stereo that can play DTS and Dolby 5.1, I can get a quad-band cell phone. Perhaps it is time to make players that support both, then you can pick and choose, based on who has the best content.

    Choose your car based on pre-installed satellite radio? That's hard core.
  • I know there's been talks about the two companies merging to deal with financial trouble that was incured from startup costs. Does anyone else think that the FCC might let them merge if and only if they allow the FCC to oversee what they put on the air. The FCC already has too much power this won't help any. We need to go to European type standards, not make ours even stricter.
  • by eddy (18759)

    Break out common functionality and put it in a superclass which both children inherit.

  • by raehl (609729) <raehl311&yahoo,com> on Monday January 22, 2007 @07:42PM (#17717206) Homepage
    Regular radio, there are multiple, independent stations that deliver content over a standard medium to standard receivers.

    Television is distributed in that manner, as well as by cable and satellite distribution companies which are (mostly) separate from the stations.

    Satellite radio is weird, because the entity you pay for distribution is the same entity providing the programming.

    So, let XM and Sirius form and spin-off a third company that handles the satellite infrastructure.

    Let various manufacturers sell satellite radio receivers.

    Keep XM and Sirius as separate providers of programming, much like HBO and Cinemax. As a consumer, you can buy one, the other, or both, and get it all on one receiver.
    • Except that Cable/Sat TV set top boxes are proprietary much like XM/Sirius. Ever try to hook up a comcast box to a cox cable network. Without the box you are pretty much relegated to hbo and basic subscription channels.
      • by AK Marc (707885)
        That can be fixed by the FCC. The FCC, when issuing the frequencies to the companies made sure they agreed not to merge. They are both losing money. They need to merge, but signed a contract that they wouldn't. The FCC would probably agree to a merger if they split from 2 vertically integrated competing companies into 3 de-integrated companies that were independent, but not competitors, as long as the standards were open and allowed new competitors as described by the grandparent. Allowing new competit
  • Personally I was planning to get XM radio because Im sick of the ten minutes of music then ten minutes of commercials I get on terestrial radio. The problem being if they merge I dont care to in anyway support Howard Stern. Its a personal taste thing but he drives me nuts. I hated high school and the guy gives me serious flashbacks. If Im left with no choice between the two Ill default to CDs and save the money. Im sure some feel the same about Oprah, personally I have no opinion. I realize there are multip
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maxrate (886773)
      Don't like Stern? Don't listen to him. Besides, he's already been paid up. You're not giving him money. It's long history. The subscribership of Sirius paid stern off 8 months ago. He has a contract with Sirius for 5 years - he's been paid.
    • by edwdig (47888)
      The real problem is if they are trying to merge it means neither is profitable, no shock there, so both will likely go under. For my two cents I say let them merge if you do one thing. Separate the pricing so you have your choice. I have no interest in supporting shock jocks, Oprah neither. I say offer package deals where you can get talk or music or a bundle of both. If you cant have competition at least have choice.

      Sirius wants to merge because their market cap is significantly higher than XM's, but XM ha
      • by Babbster (107076)
        Actually, according to this article [newratings.com], Sirius has already started experiencing "positive free cash flows" which means profits are, literally, right around the corner. It gets somewhat more complicated since Sirius will continue to pursue desirable content and technology improvements (such as, I believe, launching at least one more satellite this year or next) in an effort to improve their service, but subscriber numbers have already been increasing at a higher rate for Sirius - when they signed Stern in 2004
  • Damn You, FCC! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by h4ck7h3p14n37 (926070) on Monday January 22, 2007 @08:01PM (#17717410) Homepage

    I _really_ wish the FCC would stop trying to control markets and technologies. I can understand the issues with interference, but exactly how is a monopoly in a new and developing industry a bad thing for consumers? Isn't the first company providing services in a certain space a monopoly? Does that mean we shouldn't allow a company to come up with a new radio technology unless there's another company that's also doing it?

    Being a monopoly is not evil in and of itself, it's when that monopoly uses its power to keep others out of the market that it becomes a problem. How exactly could a merger of Sirius and XM Radio keep others out of the market? It's not like they can prevent competitors from launching satellites, or buying bandwidth on someone else's satellite. Consumers will always be free to purchase a new receiver if need be.

  • Once again... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ellem (147712) * <ellem52NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday January 22, 2007 @08:04PM (#17717424) Homepage Journal
    Once again let me state, the FCC needs to be abolished. It serves no purpose. It failed at it's only given task. It is a pointless commission that loses billions of dollars. I mean literally loses. Hey where's that two billion we got siphoning off the phone bills of Americans? It was just here a minute ago I swear.
  • There is plenty of good, ad free content on Internet radio stations. I wrote an Internet Radio Recorder [netgate.net] for Mac, and I am sure you can easily find options for Windows and Linux. There are also lots of free music and talk podcasts on iTunes. Why pay a monthly subscription fee for something you will only use once in a while? How many talk shows you are going to listen to anyway?
  • by dfenstrate (202098) * <`moc.liamg' `ta' `etartsnefd'> on Monday January 22, 2007 @08:16PM (#17717544)
    If there was a monopoly in sattelite radio.... so what?

    It's an optional service. No one, by any stretch of the imagination, needs to buy sattelite radio service.

    If they piss off their customers, what are the customers gonna do?

    STOP PAYING THEM.

    That's all. Folks will listen to free broadcast radio or cd's instead. They won't starve, they won't have to dig up a precious resource themselves, and they won't have to kill someone in the streets to get their fix.

    But hey, the FCC got to flex their muscle. They must be proud.
    • You have a good point. Additionally, if there was a satellite radio monopoly it wouldn't prevent a second party from starting up to compete - which would certainly happen if the one monopoly company started abusing customers. In general I think that keeping monopolies down is good for capitalism, and in this case it may still be the right thing to do, but I don't see any great harm in allowing the two to merge.

      Of course, hind sight is 20/20. We're all seriously blind about the future, aren't we?
      • by Babbster (107076)
        One problem with the idea that another satellite radio company could pop up is that a Sirius/XM hybrid would already have six satellites up. Merging and then providing radios that could receive and decode the combined signals would double their available bandwidth, not to mention all of the "exclusive" contracts that would be possessed by the merged company (Stern, Oprah, Martha, the various sports, etc.). The amount of money it would take to compete would be astronomical (hehe), both in terms of equipmen
  • I know that competition is a good thing for consumers, and monopolies are generally only good for companies.

    Personally, I don't want every Tom, Dick and Harry laying utility services in my street, this includes fibre & cables as well as gas and water pipes. What a nightmare that'd be. I don't want their RF pollution either. And being granted such a monopoly isn't necessarily good for companies as they have to play fair due to anti-competition regulations and provide good wholesale rates to their compet

  • by maxrate (886773) on Monday January 22, 2007 @08:31PM (#17717706)
    The Howard Stern channels (100 and 101) are two of about 160+ channels available on Sirius satellite.

    If you don't like Stern - don't listen!

    Actually, his show is far better on satellite then it ever was on terrestrial radio.

    If you buy satellite radio (Sirius) I guarantee that you'll tune in to his channel one day, and something on his show will make you laugh. I used to be anti-Stern as well, but really the show is quite entertaining. All the challenging/serious computer work all day can make you want to listen to some fun trash talk. His show can be a de-stresser for me at times. Sometimes the show is dull / sometimes it is absolutely hilarious! Now that it's on satellite, give it a try. I think you can subscribe just to the on-line radio (Sirius has an internet feed). Try it for a month before you buy the hardware.

    I go on long drives often (500km-1100km) - it's nice not having to hunt for radio stations while you're driving. Satellite has really changed the way I listen to music while driving. iPod - I have one of those. I'm a busy professional and don't have time to dink around downloading songs or bothering with DRM.

  • Whoever the submitter is, he/she seems to have a pretty rosy view of a merger would result in. It doesn't mean that both XM and Sirius would fuse into one all encompassing uber service where you would get every existing channels for the same monthly fee. It just means that XM/Sirius would be owned under a single corporate umbrella. I would not be shocked to see increased monthly fees post-merger. One thing keeping subscription fees at their current level is the fierce competition with each other and fear th
  • by Miamicanes (730264) on Monday January 22, 2007 @08:44PM (#17717852)
    People who subscribe to neither Sirius nor XM don't seem to be aware that the differences between Sirius and XM go far beyond Stern vs Oprah, and NFL vs Baseball.

    Sirius's music channels are generally programmed like "normal" radio stations, but without the commercials. They have DJs, Top XX countdowns, and playlists. Sirius generally appeals to people who hate the endless commercials or have musical tastes that vary from the local market norm (ie, someone into garage alternative or trance forced to live in some horrible small town or rural area where half the local stations are country, and the other half are religious), but are perfectly happy once they discover Sirius and get to enjoy the kind of radio that used to be available only to people in places like New York and Los Angeles.

    XM's music channels are mostly jockless (no DJ) and have significantly deeper playlists. XM's subscribers call it "non-repetitive variety without intrusive, annoying chatter" and view it as a huge advantage over Sirius. On the other hand, most Sirius subscribers feel like they're listening to a CD player where someone put in a stack of CDs and hit the 'randomize' button when listening to XM. Different strokes for different folks.

    The fact is, if XM took over Sirius, or Sirius took over XM, and the victor used the additional bandwidth to improve audio fidelity or add video services, and pretty much wiped out the other network's channels and format altogether, I *guarantee* at least half the losing service's customers would be gone within 3 months. Probably a third would be gone the moment their current month ended. Of course, many would dribble back in over the next few years, but it would unleash a lot of bad blood and bitterness.
    • by rrohbeck (944847)
      >XM's subscribers call it "non-repetitive variety without intrusive, annoying chatter"

      Sounds like an iPod to me.

  • Still, I don't like having to choose a car based on which satellite radio service comes pre-installed,

    Simple answer then. Don't. At least all the stock sat radio units I've seen suck compared to any of the aftermarket ones you install. Even XM's entry level Roady has a better display that your stock GM radio

  • While I wasn't too keen in having to choose between Sirus and XM, the decision was really no different than choosing between an Xbox360, PS3, and Wii.
  • ... or they're both going to die. I think there are some industries where mergers really need to happen, and this would be a good one. I don't see how it is efficient to maintain two satellite networks, with frequencies being wasted on providing the same exact service. I mean, it's very expensive to maintain that infrastructure in two places, so why not combine them? Eventually, the savings would be passed onto the consumer, because it's only in XM or Sirius's best interest to be in every car in the U.S. (b
  • Radio??? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rrohbeck (944847) on Monday January 22, 2007 @09:19PM (#17718232)
    Isn't that the wireless technology that transmits only audio? No video, no data? How quaint is that?

    Seriously. Wake me up when I can get streaming audio via WiMax in my car. What do you need a satellite for?

  • I don't bother with satellite or terrestrial. I have tunes in my noggin' [exploratorium.edu] pretty much 24/7.



    It makes for really cheap entertainment.


    RS

  • ...back when there was talk about DirectTV and Dish merging.

    Trouble is, its short-term thinking that doesn't necessarily look at the long-term survival of either company.

    Competition is good to keep existing monopolies from getting out of hand and abusing the customer base, but if, thanks to competition and high operating costs, *nobody* makes a profit, then the market itself will die. At worst. Otherwise, its whoever can keep the VC capital flowing until the other one dies, then the monopoly happens inevitably anyways.

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