We are announcing that effective today Satellite Standard Group has been sold. While the financial terms of the deal can not be revealed, we did negotiate to publish this article and can elaborate on some of the terms.
1. We can not operate another similar site relating to SDARS for a period of 1 year.
2. Current writers on the site will not be used by the new ownership.
3. The buyers will be taking SSG down, and will not continue the site in any way.
4. The buyers represent a consortium of entities that SSG has been critical of.
We have enjoyed running and operating SSG over the past year, and while this may seem like a bad move, it was an offer that I would be irresponsible to pass up. We hope that you the readers can understand this, and want to once again thank you for all of your support, and offer these last words. Happy April Fools Day......sorry, but I could not resist.
It turns out that the author of the Alabama House resolution against the merger owns and operates terrestrial radio stations!
The following was sent to me by an SSG reader
Remember the Alabama House resolution that didn't like the SIRIUS/XM merger? Here is the author of the resolution: http://www.rephubbard.com/Biography.aspx Please note : "Hubbard's company, Auburn Network, Inc., owns and operates WANI NewsTalk 1400, a commercial radio station in the Auburn/Opelika market as well as Studio 197, an audio production company serving the national broadcast industry" His contact page: http://www.rephubbard.com/Contact.aspx
"In 1990, Hubbard left Auburn University to head up Auburn’s radio and television sports network. In 1994, Hubbard formed his own company, Auburn Network, Inc., to handle Auburn’s multi-media rights and built the network into one of the nation’s most respected collegiate sports networks. In 2003, Hubbard sold the multi-media sports division of his company to Winston-Salem, N.C.-based International Sports Properties and continues to serve as President of ISP’s Auburn project. Hubbard’s company, Auburn Network, Inc., owns and operates WANI NewsTalk 1400, a commercial radio station in the Auburn/Opelika market as well as Studio 197, an audio production company serving the national broadcast industry, and East Alabama Living, a regional quarterly magazine. Auburn Network, Inc., is also a partner in Craftmaster Printers, Inc., a commercial printing company based in Auburn"....read more: here
It was one year ago that SSG launched with a goal of providing various information and opinions relating to the world of satellite radio. It was our goal to keep readers up to speed with information as quickly as possible, and we feel that we have for the most part accomplished that.
From modest beginnings on a standard blogger template to acquiring the www.satellitestandard.com name to simplify the address by avoiding having to use the "blogspot", to working with some wonderful sites and people, it has been an interesting experience.
I would like to thank all of those who contribute to making this site possible. Writers, those familiar with the workings of computer language, those that help with research, and of course the input of readers, have all helped make Satellite Standard Group what it is today.
One primary objective when SSG was launched was to keep it self sustaining. Thanks to Google, and the ability to have a site on blogger for free, that task was greatly simplified, and were it not for that capability, SSG would likely not continue to exist. SSG exists on the backs and efforts of people with a passion for satellite radio, and that is something to be proud of.
Over the past year SSG has posted over 2,400 articles which equates to an average of nearly 7 articles per day. We make efforts to keep SSG content fresh, and it is thanks to the contributors that this can happen.
Over the past year SSG has had nearly 800,000 page loads. This equates to a bit over 2,100 per day. Modest numbers, but we try to continue to grow.
Over the past year SSG has had the ability to work with and promote some very compelling sites regarding satellite radio. Some pre-existed SSG and others were brand new. All share a passion for Sirius and XM. SSG readers should take advantage of the wonderful content that these many sites provide.
It is obvious to state that the past year has been frustrating for those invested into satellite radio. There have been various opportunities with Sirius, XM and related equities, but overall, the sector has been on a rough road. As believers in the sector, some of the news has at times been troubling. Many wonder what 2007 will bring for this sector. The merger is now on the forefront of the sector, and the uncertainty surrounding it makes finding a direction difficult. We at SSG will make efforts to keep readers informed with news, reports, and of course our opinion.
In the past, satellite radio has been a very polarizing environment, and to a certain extent that still exists today. Fans as well as investors of XM and Sirius are a very passionate group, and they often seems to parallel the fans of the Yankees and Red Sox. The merger brings about a chance to focus the passion onto satellite radio as a whole rather than segmenting that passion into one company or another. We hope to see that this year will bring a united fan base and that should the merger happen, a group that can express their wants and desires as to what satellite radio services should be.
If you are a regular reader of SSG I hope that we continue to earn your respect. If you are new to SSG I would ask that you browse our past articles, and check back often to see if this site provides at least part of the information you are seeking. If you dislike SSG, it is our hope that you will take a fresh look at this site and do so with an open mind. If you are a passionate fan of satellite radio, you may even want to consider becoming a contributor to the site.
In his Criterion Economics report Sidak states the following:
"In 2006, Sirius announced it's acquisition of the rights to 23,000 hours of Stern programming, which it intends to air unedited"
Mr. Sidak........Why did you neglect to tell where that programming was from? Why did you neglect to state that the VAST MAJORITY of that programming could air on terrestrial radio TODAY. The fact is that that 23,000 hours of programming represents the terrestrial radio days of Howard Stern. Do these facts not suit your stance?
Today some of that content was on the air, and there was nothing in that show that couldn't have been broadcast on terrestrial radio.
The facts are this. Terrestrial radio could not air the content without the consent of Stern. Stern was not going to allow that to happen, considering that he was being sued by CBS at the time. Sirius bought the rights to the content for $2,000,000. CBS could have stuck to their guns had they found the content so compelling. They did not, and sold their rights for $2,000,000.
Mr. Sidak, the author of the Criterion Economics (supported by C3SR and the NAB)report against the Sirius and XM merger makes yet another error.
In the report Sidak states:
"Playboy radio, which requires subscribers to opt-in, reportedly drew 1,000,000 customers to Sirius over a three month period."
Mr. Sidak......once again I guess you need to be corrected. Perhaps you are unaware, and did not do the research, or perhaps you are simply trying to be misleading, but here are the facts: 1. Playboy radio did not draw 1,000,000 customers to Sirius. The bulk of those that opted-in were ALREADY subscribers to Sirius. If that was the case, we would already have a Penthouse channel, a Hustler channel, etc. 2. The opt-in is FREE. Consumers tend to take anything that is given to them free. By example, I opted into the FREE Playboy Radio channel. I have listened to the stream for about 15 to 30 minutes when it first launched, and have not tuned in since. 3. There are perhaps a few people who cite specifically Playboy Radio as their reason for subscribing, but I would venture to say that the number is very small. In fact, most studies indicate that consumers cite commercial free music as their reason for subscribing......IMAGINE THAT
Wow, the Criterion Economics report is a goldmine for debate. Sidak, the author of the report, seems to have holes in nearly every page.
we all know that there are two sides to every debate, and I am not professing that my viewpoint is the final solution. I am simply pointing out other factors that those reading the report should consider.
In yet another section of the report Sidak states:
"Broadcast radio has also faced sizable fines as recently as April 8, 2004, including a $495,000 NAL against Clear Channel Communications for an episode of the Howard stern Show, a $755,000 NAL against Clear Channel for a broadcast by radio host "Bubba The Love Sponge", and $357,000 in liability against Infinity Broadcasting for an episode of the Opie and Anthony Show. Notably, all of these controversial radio hosts are now offered on satellite radio"
Mr. Sidak........please correct me if I am wrong, but isn't Opie and Anthony available of terrestrial radio????? I could swear that I have heard that duo on Boston radio station WBCN. In fact Mr. Sidak, you have offices in Cambridge Massachusetts, so perhaps you have heard them. They were on the air this morning in fact. I also have seen WBC Billboards featuring this duo on FM radio stations. HMMMMMM. You have an office in Washington if I am not mistaken......Seems they are on terrestrial radio there as well. In case you missed it Mr. Sidak, here is a list of terrestrial radio stations offering Opie and Anthony:
New York City: 92.3 FreeFM WFNY (online stream available) Philadelphia: 94.1 FreeFM WYSP (online stream available) Dallas: 105.3 FM KLLI (online stream available) Boston: 104.1 FM WBCN Pittsburgh: 93.7 FM WRKZ Cleveland: 92.3 Fm WXRK (show airs from 3pm - 6pm) West Palm Beach: 103.1 FM WPBZ Detroit: 97.1 FreeFM WKRK (show airs from 6am - 9am) Columbus: 107.1 FM WAZU (show airs from 3pm - 6pm) Rochester: 94.1 FM WZNE (show airs from 2pm - 5pm) Washington, DC: 106.7 FreeFM WJFK (show airs from 10am - 1pm) Chicago, IL - 105.9 Free FM WCKG (online stream available) San Francisco, CA - 106.9 Free FM KIFR (show airs from 10am - 1pm) (online stream available) Providence, RI - WSKO 790 AM and 99.7 FM New London, CT - WMOS 104.7 FM Grand Rapids, MI - WKLQ 107.3 FM Albuquerque, NM - KBZU 96.3 FM (show airs from 4pm - 7pm) Portland, ME - WCYY 93.9FM & 94.3FM Buffalo, NY - WEDG 103.3 FM Baton Rouge, LA - KRDJ 93.7 FM Tucson, AZ - 107.5 FM KHYT (online stream available) Cape Cod, MA - 102.9 FM WPXC Pixy 103 Las Vegas, NV - 107.5 FM KXTE XTXREME ROCK RADIO (show airs from 10am - 1pm) Flint, MI - 1330 AM WTRX Sports Xtra (show airs from 6am - 9am) Syracuse, NY - 95.7 FM WAQX 95X (online stream available)
Wow, that is an impressive listing. So the question is this......Are Opie and Anthony indecent, and therefore excluded from terrestrial radio, or are they able to broadcast over the air in all of these markets? I know the answer.....The question is whether you know the answer. Mr. Sidak, Please forgive my obvious sarcasm, but frankly I tend to get sarcastic when I am being fed a line of BS.
More on the C3SR/NAB sponsored Criterion Economics report.
In the report, authored by Sidak, he states:
"As I demonstrate below, the marquee content offered by SDARS is generally prohibited on broadcast terrestrial radio due to indecency standards. The demand for indecent content is widely considered to be inelastic. For example, evidence indicates the demand for adult oriented content is highly price inelastic. Pay-Per-View adult entertainment on cable systems, for instance, garners some of the highest profit margins of any programming. Some analysts claim the margins for cable or direct broadcast satellite operators of up to 80% on each purchase. Other studies show price inelastic demand for indecent content on the internet. This inelastic demand means that most current consumers of indecent content are "inframarginal" consumers who will tolerate a price increase. Although such content may compete weakly against playboy magazine and other indecent content consumed in the privacy of one's home, indecent content over radio is distinguishable because it can be consumed in the car, while driving, and in remote geographical locations."
SSG Comments: Nice outline of your point, but are you neglecting to remember that consumers have access to a wide variety of content delivery systems????? Did you forget about I-Pods, MP3 Players and CD's? What you term as indecent content can be delivered via those methods as well. Why did you leave these important categories out of your report in this section? Is it that you are slanting this report to terrestrial radio and failing to consider the other competition that consumers have access to? How does the profit margin of Pay-Per-View television equate to the current model of satellite radio? Do you really want us to believe that if Sirius charged $2.00 for Howard Stern that $1.60 of that money would translate to the bottom line for Sirius????? Come now Mr. Sidak....surely you know the cost of the Howard Stern deal. Ever see a George Carlin CD? Ever see other CD with warning labels on them? Can those CD's with indecent content be played in the car? Ever see the kinds of programming that can be downloaded to an I-Pod? Do you want us to believe that out of the 90,000,000 I-Pods sold that no one is using them in their car? Another note......Local content. Why is it that your clients want terrestrial radio to have the monopoly on local content??????? Does that provide an advantage to terrestrial radio? Mr. Sidak.......your report is generating many questions. Surely someone with your experience and background can provide answers.
3/30/07, www.briefing.com Apple to offer Major League Baseball video highlights on the iTunes store (93.75 ) Co announced that MLB video on iTunes will include a daily 25 minute "MLB.com Daily Rewind" highlight show and two weekly "Games of the Week," featuring full versions of the best games from the National and American Leagues.
The more I read this Criterion Economics report the more I find holes in it. This one report alone is 91 pages, and the number of inaccuracies will provide for a long series of articles tied to this subject.
In yet another section of the report, Sidak states:
"In addition to low churn rates another indication for inelastic demand for SDARS is the high conversion rate. The conversion rate is defined as the percentage of customers who sign a contract with an SDARS provider after sampling the service for three months free of charge. During 2003 XM was able able to convert nearly three quarters of all customers who were on a three month free trial. During 2004 through 2005, the conversion rate decreased to 60 percent, yet was still impressive. The high conversion rate suggests that SDARS customers would not substitute toward another radio service in response to a small price increase for SDARS"
Mr. Sidak........where is the most current conversion rate data????? Was that data missing or just conveniently omitted from the report?????? 2003 conversion was reported at a bit over 70%. What you fail to state is that subsequent to that report XM corrected several parts of their billing system and weeded out bad accounts and people receiving free service beyond the three month period. It was then that the rate dropped to 60%......then 55%.....and the LATEST DATA is at about 52%.
Yes a 52% take rate is decent. However, consider the amount of money invested into those consumers. This is money that the terrestrial radio stations need not invest.
I apologize, but I must ask again......WHAT IS THE REASON YOU NEGLECTED TO PROVIDE THE LATEST DATA????????
Comments on the study conducted by Criterion Economics against the merger.
SSG is looking over the study conducted by Criterion Economics and commenting on various aspects of the study. Bear in mind that we are not professional economists, but we can offer insight and opinion that we feel the author of the report has overlooked. This analysis will happen over a series of articles.
This segment concentrates on the comparison to the satellite television merger that was attempted and failed in 2002. SSG Comments in RED
The author of the report states:
"The merger proponents suggest implausibly that this merger bears no resemblance to the proposed DBS merger that was abandoned in the face of FCC skepticism in 2002. But similarities are striking, and they have been detected by many respected industry observers. In the proposed DBS merger, most MVPD customers would have experienced a reduction in the number of suppliers from three (the incumbent cable operator, Direct TV, and Echostar), to two, and five million DBS customers in areas not passed by cable television systems would have experienced a reduction in the number of suppliers from two to one. Assuming generously that terrestrial radio serves the same role of the incumbent cable operator here, most radio customers would experience a reduction in the number radio suppliers from two to one, and those 22 million age 12 and over who receive 5 or fewer stations would experience a reduction in the number of radio suppliers from two to one. For the same reason that the FCC was skeptical of the proposed satellite television merger, the proposed satellite radio merger should be rejected."
Interesting thesis, but lacking in very real terms:
1. Radio stations can not be compared to cable operators. Cable operators are the sole source of cable television and the cable company collects all of the revenue associated with cable subscribers. To insinuate that the many radio stations in a market are collectively a single entity is very very very very wrong. Terrestrial radio stations compete aggressively with each other and other media on a day in and day out basis. Have you ever seen the ratings books????? Pick any town in the U.S with a single cable operator and tell me what their share is of the cable market.......That's right 100%. Radio stations do not have that luxury.
2. The assertion that 5 million customers in ares without cable would have been relegated to one choice is correct, but lets put that in realistic terms. those 5 million customers represent less than 5% of the population of this country.
3. How is it in one statement the author can go from lumping all radio stations together as a single entity to then speaking about markets with 5 or fewer stations? For the purposes of your argument are they lumped together or separate???? Pick a stance and stick to it. This statement seems like it is likely a Direct quote from David Rehr of the NAB. He is good at flip-flopping.
Sorry Mr. Sidak, but you seem to be trying to compare apples to oranges. And, if anyone takes the time to read your footnotes, the supporting argument for the comparisons of these mergers does not reflect at all the sentiment you state in the paragraph above
The Consumer Coalition for Competition in satellite Radio, C3SR, is a consumer group that is lobbying against the Sirius and XM merger. They have taken a stance that the merger is bad rather than a stance, such as Public Knowledge that could use their influence to shape the merger into a company with the desired impacts for the consumer.
The NAB has lobbied against the merger from the start, and in our opinion has demonstrated a very shallow argument.
It appears that the NAB is the dollars behind C3SR.
The Criterion Economics study issued to the FCC and DOJ, and authored by J. Gregory Sidak has an interesting note:
"The Consumer Coalition for Competition in Satellite Radio is a consumer group of Sirius and XM subscribers. It is supported by the National association of Broadcasters."
So, is C3SR doing the bidding of consumers, or the bidding of the National Association of Broadcasters?
What is C3SR's position on the consolidation in terrestrial radio that the NAB is seeking?
Sidak, as indicated in this report is regularly in the employ of the NAB. Why is it that the C3SR sponsored this report rather than the NAB?
Did the money that paid for this report come from the NAB?
How many members does C3SR have? To date, information on the C3SR site has been sparse, and there does not seem to be much in way of participation from individuals.
With the release of this report, there now seems to be more questions than answers surrounding the relationship between C3SR and the NAB
Comments on the study conducted by Criterion Economics against the merger.
SSG is looking over the study conducted by Criterion Economics and commenting on various aspects of the study. Bear in mind that we are not professional economists, but we can offer insight and opinion that we feel the author of the report has overlooked. This analysys will happen over a series of articles.
The author of the report states that in mid 2005 XM raised their price but did not suffer an increase in churn, and therefore there is a distinct difference in SDARS and other providers of audio content. His argument is that the price increase did not cause consumers to seek out new providers for content.
First, churn needs to be defined and the other impacts happening in that time period need to be considered.
1. Churn is a measure of cancellations relative to the average size of the base. An influx of subscribers above the norm can have a direct impact on the reported churn rate.
A. General Motors introduced their highly successful employee discount program and had record sales. This created an inflation ion the OEM channel subscriber numbers for Q2 and Q3. There was then a lower than expected OEM number in Q4, but the retail holiday season helped offset that issue. The author of the report fails to acknowledge this fact.
B. During that same timeframe, XM satellite radio launched an aggressive friends and family promotional program. During this timeframe the friends and family program increased from about 12% of the subscriber base to 22% of the subscriber base. Consumers were enticed with free hardware offerings and/or free service for a period of time. The author of the report fails to acknowledge this fact.
2. During this timeframe XM Satellite Radio saw an increase in Subscriber Acquisition Costs (SAC) and reported losses greater than anticipated. The author of the report fails to acknowledge this fact.
3. XM dropped a premium tier of programming and made it part of the base service. Thus, there was an increase in value and level of service that the consumer received. The author fails to acknowledge this in his report.
4. XM had elasticity in price because Sirius was already at $12.95 per month. This gave XM room to increase the price without a large backlash from their consumers. The author failed to acknowledge this in his report.
5. XM satellite radio also offered consumers the opportunity to lock in the current rate by pre-paying. Many consumers took advantage of this offer. The financial reports show that the average pre-pay subscriber increased during this timeframe. The author of the report fails to acknowledge this in his report.
Simple mathematics dictates that a surge in subscribers would increase the subscriber pool such that the normal cancellations would appear to be in line with a normal situation. The author of the report, and in fact most analysts that covered the sector, did not take into account the substantial changes and dynamics that happened in the XM subscriber base during that timeframe. There was a substantial increase in OEM (estimated at 175,000 to 225,000 higher than normal over 2 quarters) subscribers as well as a substantial increase in Family plan subscribers. The author speaks of a price increase, but does not consider a few hundred thousand units that were selling with three months of free service, and $6.99 per month thereafter (family plan). For the author to state that churn was not affected without getting to an apples to apples comparison is simply wrong.
The increase in SAC speaks to what was happening. Simply stated, XM was in the mode of “buying” subscribers at a rate higher than they had previously been spending. Thus, the price impact did indeed have an impact on metrics…..it simply was not seen in churn. Ask an XM investor about the SAC costs during the second half of 2005 and you will see a direct impact.
The change in price was coupled with programming being removed from a premium tier. Thus, the base package of XM was increased. This added consumer value. This coupled with the option to lock in pricing helps to offset churn.
Simply stated, on this aspect of the report, the author seems to have missed some key components and factors. Would these factors change the authors opinion or number on this section of his report. We may never know. The report as it exists was contracted by an anti-merger group, and I somehow do not see that group asking the author to address these factors, nor do I see the author changing his report to take these items into consideration unless he was paid to do so, or there was another compelling reason.
Securities Class Action Litigation Dismissed. On March 28, 2007, our motion to dismiss the previously disclosed securities class action litigation was granted and the case dismissed with prejudice. The court concluded that “plaintiffs have failed to identify any materially misleading statements or omissions that are actionable under Section 10(b)” of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
(This smells like a study paid for by a group that may have a conflict of interest)
Study Sent to FCC and DOJ Confirms XM-Sirius Merger Constitutes a Monopoly Satellite Radio Is Confirmed a Distinct Product Market Raising Antitrust Concerns WASHINGTON, March 29, 2007 /PRNewswire via COMTEX
A study sent yesterday to the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice demonstrates that the proposed merger between XM and Sirius would create a monopoly, constituting a likely violation of the antitrust laws. Conducted by one of the country's leading economists and scholars, the study lends concrete evidence and analysis to some of the most important questions that have plagued lawmakers since the merger was announced earlier this year. As lawmakers on Capitol Hill began to focus increasingly on what the relevant product market is for satellite radio and what impact this merger would have on consumers, the Consumer Coalition for Competition in Satellite Radio ("C3SR") -- the only group solely dedicated to protecting the interests of the over 14 million satellite radio subscribers in the United States -- approached J. Gregory Sidak of Criterion Economics, L.L.C to prepare an expert declaration analyzing the likely competitive impact of the proposed merger of XM and Sirius....read more: here
It is pretty much confirmed that HD Radio is going to charge consumers for content. At what point is the FCC going to consider this service competition for satellite radio? Ironically, free HD is not considered competition, but paid service would be!
Is Pay-for-Play HD Content on Horizon? Conditional Access Is Tested; Reading Services Said to Benefit by Leslie Stimson, 3.28.2007, RadioWorld
For more than a year, Ibiquity officials have been working with NDS, a technology contractor, to develop a conditional access feature for HD Radio. With field testing underway at a Florida public station, some proponents hope conditional access is the next big feature for HD Radio and think receivers that can handle the capability may be available by the end of the year. Much must happen to make that a reality. With conditional access, the ability to hear or see certain content on a digital signal is limited to consumers who have the appropriately “unlocked” receivers. The technology is envisioned as a new use for stations’ multicast channels, not their main digital channels, supporters say. Several companies involved in testing the concept were part of the project that helped push multicasting to market. Numerous uses for conditional access have been cited. Stations could sell one-time paid access to audio events or provide upgraded audio quality for existing radio reading services for the visually impaired. Stations could offer spectrum to benefit emergency communications by first responders. They could sell software updates to car navigation companies or establish channels where parents could better control access to content. Access to reading services would still be free to listeners who qualify, backers say. But whether regulators should allow commercial stations to charge for other content carried within their spectrum has not been widely debated and the question could be contentious. Proponents said they’ve discussed whether the FCC would need to approve the use of a multicast channel that involves charging the listener, but don’t agree on whether it would be controversial....read more: here
Sirius Video has been spoken about for years. At the consumer electronics show each of the last three years, Sirius has demonstrated the service. The technology was there, but a market needed to be defined, and an OEM needed to take the leadership role in getting the service from concept to reality.
That day has come.
For the first time, investors can now understand what the service is, how it works, and the pricing structure. In my opinion Sirius has made a few smart moves in relation to this service.
1. You can only get Sirius Backseat TV if you are a Sirius subscriber. This means that Sirius will be getting a minimum of $19.95 per month from these people.
2. The price point of the option at $470 is not out of reach when buying a car, and with 1 year of Back Seat TV free, it makes the deal seem like a winner to the consumer.
4. With this new service, Sirius ads value to being a Sirius subscriber. It is a convergence of technologies that is being delivered by one company.
5. Now kids can have their entertainment and parents can tune into Classic Rewind instead of Radio Disney. EVERYONE IS HAPPY!!!!!
One SSG reader, Warren, has been waiting for this day for some time. He lamented about the DVD based systems in his car. "The DVD's are great, but they wind up scratched and useless after only a short period of time, because the kids keep switching DVD's"....."A video service would actually be a better value. All I think of is that I am constantly buying DVD's only to see them become useless."
Yes, the service took some time to happen, but now it is here. Fresh and constant entertainment for the kids for only $7.00 per month........and the driver once again has control of the radio.
SIRIUS Satellite Radio’s Backseat TV™ Launches Only on Chrysler Group Vehicles
First ever live in-vehicle TV network, exclusive to the automotive market for 2008 model-year Chrysler, Jeep® and Dodge vehicles
Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and Cartoon Network – the biggest names in family TV – will deliver three live channels directly to the vehicle
New York - SIRIUS Satellite Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI) and Chrysler Group announced today that Chrysler Group will be the exclusive automaker to offer SIRIUS Backseat TV™ in its 2008 model-year vehicle lineup. SIRIUS Backseat TV™ is a dynamic and pioneering TV service that delivers live TV from the best family TV programmers directly to the vehicles.
Whether driving cross-country or cross-town, families will be able to access SIRIUS Backseat TV™’s high quality television entertainment and family TV fare through a simple, easy-to-operate video service. SIRIUS Backseat TV™ is live TV programming from the world’s most trusted brands in family entertainment – Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and Cartoon Network. The service will be available in select 2008 model Chrysler, Jeep® and Dodge vehicles, beginning with the all-new 2008 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans, available later this year.
Three channels of children’s TV featuring many of the most well-known kids’ programming will be available, including Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and Cartoon Network. Rear-seat passengers will be able to watch shows such as Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants,” Disney Channel’s “Cory in the House,” and Cartoon Network’s “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.”
“Chrysler Group is committed to offering innovative technologies that are right for our customers,” said Frank Klegon, Executive Vice President – Product Development, Chrysler Group. “SIRIUS Backseat TV™ makes its world debut in Chrysler Group’s all-new 2008 minivans and marks the third SIRIUS service – along with SIRIUS radio and SIRIUS real-time traffic – available to Chrysler Group customers.”
Mel Karmazin, CEO, SIRIUS said, “SIRIUS is dedicated to bringing Chrysler Group customers the best in-vehicle entertainment available anywhere, whether it is through radio or video. SIRIUS Backseat TV™, with its best-in-class programming from our partners - Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and Cartoon Network - further enhances the already exceptional driving experience for Chrysler Group customers. In SIRIUS’ first venture in visual entertainment, I am pleased to have the three most original family-centered programming providers in TV. Just as we provide The Best Radio on Radio, this allows us to launch SIRIUS Backseat TV™ as the Best TV in the Backseat.”
“We're excited to work with SIRIUS and Chrysler Group to bring kids' number-one network – Nickelodeon – to even more places where our fans can experience and enjoy our hit shows and characters,” said Denise Dahldorf, Executive Vice President – MTV Networks Content Distribution and Marketing. “Like all of our MTVN brands, our goal for Nickelodeon is to be everywhere our audiences are, and the launch of SIRIUS Backseat TV™ gives kids and families even more screens to interact with us.”
“Disney Channel viewers expect to be able to access their favorite shows and stars wherever they are on a wide variety of devices," said Ben Pyne, President – Disney and ESPN Networks Affiliate Sales and Marketing. "We are excited to team with SIRIUS and Chrysler Group to super-serve our young viewers and deepen their connection with our shows and brands.”
“Cartoon Network Mobile is a customized programming service designed for the on-the-go mobile lifestyle,” said Coleman Breland, Executive Vice President of sales and marketing for Turner Network Sales. “This new venture with SIRIUS is one we think parents will see the benefits of and represents the next generation of back seat entertainment.”
SIRIUS Backseat TV will also be available on the 2008 Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Dodge Magnum, Jeep Commander and Jeep Grand Cherokee.
SIRIUS Backseat TV operates via an in-vehicle satellite video receiver and two small roof-mounted antennas. Programming is displayed on the vehicle’s second- and/or third-row video screens, and channel name, program title and rating will be broadcast and displayed on the screen(s). For added flexibility, rear-seat passengers can enjoy SIRIUS Backseat TV while front-seat occupants listen to SIRIUS Satellite Radio. The system can be operated from either the rear-seat entertainment unit or the radio head unit. In addition, when the vehicle is in Park, programming can be displayed on the MyGIG screen for front-seat viewing.
SIRIUS Backseat TV is available for a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $470 -- which includes the first year of service -- when packaged with Chrysler Group’s Rear Seat Entertainment System and SIRIUS Satellite Radio. After the first year, SIRIUS Backseat TV is available for $7 per month when packaged with SIRIUS Satellite Radio ($12.95 per month). SIRIUS Backseat TV will only be available to SIRIUS Satellite Radio subscribers.
Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap: Break Up to Make Up Page 4 Mad Mail, Mar 28
In his "Mad Mail" segment, Cramer told a caller that if Sirius merges with XM Satellite Radio (XMSR - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr - Rating), he predicts it will go to $5. But if it doesn't, it could go to $2 or $3 and XM would be "wiped out." Sirius closed at $3.26 Wednesday. ...read more: here
The Bridge Ratings Q1 2007 Satellite Radio Update Wednesday March 28, 2007
Demand for Satellite Radio Off Significantly Through the first three months of 2007, retail activity for satellite radio has returned to the sluggish environment we saw prior to the 2006 holiday season. While there are several factors contributing to this continued weakening market, consumer interest continues to wane and is a major factor in many of our findings in this the Bridge Ratings First Quarter 2007 Satellite Radio Update. In September 2006 Bridge Ratings began conducting "brand stimulation" studies with potential satellite radio consumers. In initial results from this study, consumer interest in satellite radio had cooled considerably from earlier in 2006. A primary reason for softer 2006 sales can be attributed to the softening interest in the technology....read more: here
XM NavTraffic Real-Time Traffic Service Expands to 50 Markets
XM NavTraffic Subscribers Now Able to Access Data for Six New Markets, Including Three Canadian Cities
WASHINGTON, March 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- XM, the nation's leading satellite radio service with more than 7.6 million subscribers, today announced that its real-time XM NavTraffic satellite information service for GPS navigation will add six new markets, allowing XM NavTraffic subscribers in the U.S. to access the real-time traffic data service in 50 major North American markets, beginning March 31. For the first time, XM NavTraffic subscribers in the U.S. will also be able to view real-time traffic data in three Canadian cities. ADVERTISEMENT
The six new XM NavTraffic markets include: Fresno, CA; Jacksonville, FL; Montreal, QB; Salt Lake City, UT; Toronto, ON; and Vancouver, BC. In addition, Portland, OR now has expanded coverage with traffic flow data available allowing drivers to see how fast the traffic is moving.
XM NavTraffic feeds data on incidents, such as accidents and road construction, directly to a vehicle's GPS navigation system via XM's satellite pipeline. The driver is alerted to these blockages through the navigation screen, allowing him or her to route around a jam before getting caught in traffic. Where available, XM NavTraffic also provides information that allows users to view an overlay of color-coded traffic flow information, indicating the average speed of travel along the driver's planned route. The traffic data is aggregated by NAVTEQ Traffic from data sources that include police and emergency services, commercial traffic data providers, road sensors, traffic cameras, eyewitness reports, and real-time aircraft surveillance reports.
NavTraffic is available as a factory-installed feature on new models from Acura (MDX, RDX, RL, TL), Cadillac (CTS), Infiniti (G35 Sedan), Lexus (LS 460 L, LS 460, LS 600h L), and Nissan (Altima), as well as through a number of aftermarket and handheld units from Alpine, Garmin, Kenwood and Pioneer Electronics. Selected as the 2005 "Best Consumer Vehicle Application" by Telematics Update, the leading telematics industry organization, XM NavTraffic is expected to be available in 200,000 vehicles by the end of 2008.
"Consumers demand new methods for saving both time and money in their daily lives, particularly on their commute with gas prices once again on the rise," said Roderick MacKenzie, XM's VP of Advanced Applications and Services. "XM NavTraffic's real-time traffic technology is a powerful and valuable tool, allowing commuters to reach their destinations quicker, spend less time sitting in traffic, and ultimately save money at the pump."
In addition to the six new markets available March 31, XM NavTraffic is currently available in the following 44 metro areas: Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Buffalo - Niagara Falls, NY; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Cincinnati, OH; Cleveland, OH; Columbus, OH; Dallas - Ft. Worth, TX; Denver - Boulder, CO; Detroit, MI; Hartford - New Britain - Middletown, CT; Houston - Galveston, TX; Indianapolis, IN; Kansas City, KS; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; Memphis, TN; Miami - Ft. Lauderdale - Hollywood, FL; Milwaukee - Racine, WI; Minneapolis - St. Paul, MN; Nashville, TN; New York, NY; Norfolk - Virginia Beach - Newport News, VA; Orlando, FL; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR; Providence - Warwick - Pawtucket, RI; Sacramento, CA; Sarasota - Bradenton, FL; San Antonio, TX; San Diego, CA; San Francisco - Oakland, CA; San Jose, CA; Seattle - Tacoma, WA; St. Louis, MO; Tampa - St. Petersburg - Clearwater, FL; Washington, DC; West Palm Beach - Boca Raton, FL; and Wilmington, DE.
For more details about the XM NavTraffic service please visit http://www.XMNavTraffic.com.
Land Rover Offering SIRIUS Satellite Radio as Standard Equipment
- Land Rover offering SIRIUS as standard equipment on 2007 model year Range Rover and Supercharged Range Rover Sport
- SIRIUS now available on all Land Rover vehicles with the launch of the all-new LR2
DETROIT and NEW YORK, March 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Land Rover and SIRIUS Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI - News) today announced that SIRIUS is available as standard equipment on the flagship 2007 model year Range Rover and Supercharged Range Rover Sport. SIRIUS and Land Rover also announced that SIRIUS will be available as a factory installed option on the all-new LR2 that goes on sale in the U.S. next week.
Source: SIRIUS Satellite Radio
"Land Rover has been a great partner in the growth of SIRIUS, and we are very pleased that they have decided to include SIRIUS radio as standard equipment on select vehicles," said Mel Karmazin, CEO of SIRIUS. "Now, more Land Rover drivers will be able to experience for themselves The Best Radio on Radio."
"Land Rover is delighted to offer SIRIUS as a standard feature or a factory option on all of our vehicles in the US," said Richard Beattie, Executive Vice President of Marketing & Sales Land Rover North America. "We are dedicated to providing our customers with the very best in-vehicle experience and SIRIUS' unique programming is a tremendous feature to have available on our vehicles. Land Rover can take you anywhere and with SIRIUS you can listen to your radio wherever your Land Rover may take you."
SIRIUS is available as a factory-installed option or standard equipment on all Land Rover vehicles including the all-new LR2 as well as the LR3, Range Rover Sport and the Range Rover
Merger Fodder: Clear Channel partners with mSpot via www. orbitcast.com, Mar 27
Clear Channel Radio and mobile entertainment provider mSpot have entered in a content agreement, allowing for music programming from ten Clear Channel stations to be heard on mSpot's radio services.
Clear Channel Radio is providing mSpot with Contemporary Hits Radio (CHR) and Urban programming from five of its most popular terrestrial stations: WHTZ (New York), WWPR (New York), KHHT (Los Angeles), WGCI (Chicago) and WMIB (Miami).
Spanish-language content from four Latin channels and a playlist of Hip-Hop hits (from Clear Channel Radio's Format Lab) also are now all available to mSpot subscribers commercial free. If that's not bad enough, next month mSpot expects to distribute live broadcasts from almost 100 Clear Channel Radio stations...read more: here
How Radio Listeners Will Fare in a Merger Of Sirius and XM March 28, 2007; Page B1, Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal
Business doesn't always look too kindly on a duopoly. True, there are the occasional twinned rivals that manage to sit happily atop an industry for decades -- Coke and Pepsi, say. But there are also many examples, like VHS and Beta, of pairs of competitors that battle it out in markets where, in the end, people want not a choice, but a single unambiguous winner.
Depending on antitrust regulators in Washington, the market for satellite radio may soon undergo a 2-for-1 deal of its own. In this case, the winner would involve a marriage of two incumbents, XM and Sirius, who have asked the Federal Communications Commission to be allowed to merge. A decision isn't expected for several months.
The request from the companies is, if nothing else, brash. XM and Sirius received permission to set up their satellite networks back in 1997, fully aware of an FCC rule specifically prohibiting the very sort of merger and resulting monopoly now being sought.
Well, that was then, say the companies and supporters of the merger; the technological landscape today is different. Back then, the only alternative to satellite radio was AM/FM radio. Today, competition abounds, not only from iPods and podcasts, and musical cellphones, but from a reinvented broadcast-radio format known as HD Radio....read more: here
YMC Records Announces Release of Dallas Rapper Steve Austin’s New Album, “800 LB. GORILLA”
DALLAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--YMC Records, a division of Dallas-based World Digital Media Group L.L.C. (WDMG), today announced that it will release Dallas rapper and Hip Hop sensation Steve Austin’s new album, “800 LB. GORILLA,” in April. YMC signed Austin, also known as the Bioniq MC, to a multi-album record deal. Austin joins the wide-ranging and growing stable of YMC artists, including “American Idol’s” Celena Rae, All-4-One and an incredible collection of music from Willie Nelson, the Pointer Sisters, Waylon Jennings, Vanessa Williams, Natalie Cole, Al Jarreau and many others.
WDMG focuses on bringing musicians to the forefront of the entertainment industry through traditional and digital channels, but Austin is no stranger to the Dallas music scene. His accolades include winning the Dallas Observer’s Rapper of the Year Award in 2006. He has a series of successful mix tapes and has performed opening concerts for nationally recognized stars, including Outkast, DMX, Jay-Z and The Roots. Through his company, Bioniq Labs, Austin has contributed to the solo and collaborative efforts of K.N.E.S., also known as Jelly Johnson, Missy Burton, South Side Boys and many others.
His new album, “800 LB. GORILLA,” is intense and aggressive, yet soulful and provocative, containing 13 tracks with featured performances by well-known artists, including the album’s single “Bussa Move” featuring Tum Tum. “800 LB. Gorilla” will be available with both clean and explicit lyrics, and YMC Records is accepting preorders for the CD at its Web site, www.ymcrecords.com. Video of Steve Austin speaking about the making of the album will also be available on the company’s IPTV channel at www.ymctv.com.
“‘800 LB. GORILLA’ has been an exciting album for me to work on,” said Austin. “As a producer and sound engineer, this album allowed me to excel with as many different styles as possible, all in one cohesive manner. I’m pleased to have the opportunity to work with a Dallas-based record company that has the energy and enthusiasm to help me break into the national scene. YMC’s strategy and industry expertise matched with my creativity and determination makes this a great relationship in the making.”
“We could not be more pleased about the album. Steve really brought his best to create an incredible CD that showcases his talent as a writer, producer and rapper,” said Michael Fletcher, YMC Records chief operating officer. “We are already receiving strong airplay on top radio stations in a number of markets and look forward to expanding to new markets when the CD is released through our distribution partner, Universal Music Enterprises.”
About YMC Records
Dallas-based YMC Records is a division of World Digital Media Group (www.wdmg.com), a multi-platform music and digital content company focused on the marketing, distribution, and sales of independent, known, and world music artists through retail, television, radio, the Internet, and wireless devices. YMC Records artists include “American Idol” finalist Celena Rae of Fort Worth, and teen sensation Courtney Now from Austin, Texas. YMC Records has released projects by such artists as Amy Grant, Willie Nelson, Vanessa Williams, Waylon Jennings, Patti Austin, the Pointer Sisters, Take Six and Al Jarreau. YMC has expanded its services to include specialty retail distribution by signing a deal with a leading retailer to distribute music from YMC records including fund-raising CDs that will give a portion of proceeds to causes including supporting U.S. troops and their families.
In the Matter of Annual Report and Analysis of Competitive Market Conditions with Respect to Domestic and International Satellite Communications Services, March 26th, 2007
I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1. This is the first annual report by the Federal Communications Commission to the United States Congress on the status of competition in the market for domestic and international satellite communications services. In this Report, we conclude that there is effective competition in both wholesale and retail satellite services markets. The Report is retrospective, focusing on conditions prevailing in the satellite services marketplace from the beginning of the 2000 calendar year through the 2006 calendar year.
2. In this Report, the Commission concludes that the market for commercial communications satellite services is effectively competitive. We discuss the structure of the satellite communications services industry and describe six wholesale markets or groups of markets (three domestic and three international) and two retail markets or groups of markets (both domestic). Within these markets, we calculate a range of standard economic indicators commonly used to assess market conduct, concentration, and performance. We also discuss the Commission’s policies regarding foreign participants’ entry into the U.S. market, as well as U.S. companies’ access to foreign markets...read more: here
WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J. and NEW YORK, March 27 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ --
MINI USA and SIRIUS Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI - News) today announced that SIRIUS is available as a factory installed option with a lifetime subscription on the all-new 2007 MINI Cooper and MINI Cooper S hardtops produced beginning this June. The lifetime subscription is transferable with the car from one owner to the next.
Source: SIRIUS Satellite Radio
The factory-installed SIRIUS radio with a lifetime subscription will be available for an MSRP of $950. MINI USA will also offer SIRIUS, with a lifetime subscription, as part of its upgraded Audio Pack that also includes MINI's Hi-Fi sound system, for an MSRP of just $1,400.
"We are excited to offer our customers factory-installed SIRIUS radio with a lifetime subscription." said Rich Steinberg, head of MINI Product Strategy, "Now it makes the choice even easier for them to enjoy SIRIUS radio in their new MINI."
"With over 130 channels of The Best Radio on Radio, SIRIUS offers the ultimate choice in radio," said Doug Wilsterman, Senior Vice President and General Manager OEM Division for SIRIUS. "By including a lifetime subscription, owners can listen to SIRIUS for as long as they own their MINI."
So, what exactly is Slacker? and how did that name come to be any way?
Well, the founders of Slacker have categorized music listeners into two categories.
DJ's make up about 30% of the music lover population. These are people who are very specific, and don't mind spending the time it takes to create the perfect playlist. DJ's spend long sessions at the computer downloading and sorting songs to suit their specific tastes and needs.
Slackers make up the other 70%. Slackers are people who love music, but do not want to spend hours working at it to obtain the music they want.
The beauty of Slacker the service is that it caters to the slacker in all of us, and is robust enough to satisfy the DJ's out there. One only has to look at the statistics on I-Pods to understand quickly that most people have very few songs saved into a device. Slacker provides and easy method from which to build a great playlist. Those familiar with satellite radio's Inno, Nexus, sirius S50 and Sirius Stiletto are already well aware of how these devices simplify the recording process, and allow users to build a great library of music in a simple fashion.
Slacker is literally a technology leap that likely has Steve Jobs scratching his head. Slacker takes the best of both worlds from MP3 and satellite. Slacker has a key feature that an I-Pod has been unable to offer. DISCOVERY. Slacker enables listeners to discover new music and save it at a touch of a button. According to data supplied by Slacker, nearly half of all MP3 and I-Pod users update their content library at intervals greater than 1 month, and these people cite a lack of time as their reason for infrequent updates.
Slacker also has taken a step to make their service more widely available by having a free tier to get started. Free Slacker is advertising supported. Slacker states that the portable player will feature "personalized rich radio ads". Free slacker also allows only limited "skipping" of songs. Basically, if you do not like a song you can skip it, but you are only allowed six skips per hour per station.
If you are a slacker that does not want advertising, they will have you covered as well, but there is a subscription involved. For $7.50 per month you get no advertising, unlimited skips as well as additional non-music content. As if that is not enough, they will be adding On-Demand and $1.00 downloads in the second half of 2007.
So, what does all of this mean for satellite radio, and more specifically, the merger?
1. Clearly Slacker will be considered competition. The Slacker Presentation I saw actually lists satellite radio as competition, and even pictures a Sirius Stiletto.
2. The $7.50 price point actually helps establish a market price for Sirius and XM's proposed entry level tier of programming. Likely, satellite radio will be able to command a slightly higher fee due to the non-music content advantages that satellite radio provides. Thus, if I were estimating, I would say that Sirius and XM will likely carry an entry level price point in the $10 neighborhood.
3. The ad supported free service is something that may well have Sirius and XM giving thought to a tier of programming that is ad driven and limited to a small cross section of content and available for free. This is something that "pre-slacker" I had thought would happen a bit further down the road. However, competitive forces may bring this card out earlier. It is a slippery slope though. The NAB would be sure to resist anything free coming from satellite radio.
4. A device such as this will clearly be a consumer favorite, and is a perfect demonstration of where technology is heading. Six months ago this type of device was not even imagined. Six months ago, the Zune was considered a new wave. As government officials consider the merger, and the competitiveness of the sector, they will have to consider this technology leap and the possibility of other cutting edge technologies hitting the sector.
Personally, I am a fan of Slacker, and don't mind admitting that ease of recording plays a roll in what device I buy. I have found that downloading songs is time consuming and cumbersome. I love the S50, Stiletto, Inno and Nexus for their ease of recording. Slacker fits right into that category for me as well.
I look forward to continuing my conversations with the folks at Slacker, and hope to test drive a slacker player soon. Will Slacker be able to pull me away from satellite radio????? No. In my mind satellite radio still has a big advantage in content offerings. However, I can see myself adding a Slacker device to my collection of audio devices, and I can see myself using and loving the service. Slackers advantage comes in the programmable stations, and when I want to "jam", i can see how slacker carries an advantage. That ban button on slacker - allowing you to "ban" songs - will come in handy.
Slacker still has a ways to go before it is available to consumers, but things do look promising.
David Rehr Flip Flops: Satellite threatens Local Radio, no wait, National Radio via www.orbitcast.com, Mar 26th
David Rehr flip-flops: Satellite threatens Local Radio, no wait, National Radio. David Rehr, President/CEO of the fan-favorite NAB, did his best to position terrestrial radio as struggling local broadcasters fighting the good fight in his Congressional testimony. But yet in his recent letter to the FCC, Rehr talks about how a merged satellite radio threatens national radio. February 28, 2007 - Written testimony (PDF) in front of the House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary Antitrust Task Force: "...media industry observers have agreed that '[s]atellite radio is a national platform,' thereby clearly differing from locally-licensed and locally-oriented terrestrial broadcast stations." March 22, 2007 - David Rehr's Letter (PDF) to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin: "A satellite radio monopoly will also thwart program access by other media, especially regional and national radio networks."...read more: here
UPDATE: This afternoon I was contacted by the folks at Slacker, and will be updating after some more in depth converstaions with those behind the newest company to utilize satellite to deliver audio content. Stay tuned
We have all seen the introduction of Slacker, and many have visited the website and given the internet version a test drive. How real is slacker? How viable is it?
Well, since the introduction we have tried to contact Slacker as well as their PR firm to gather a bit more insight into the company and the service. To date, we have not had any luck in reaching anyone, and we noticed today that the contact phone number is no longer posted on the Slacker website.
Now, to be fair, there is sometimes a marketing strategy that entails being very secretive. It builds consumer anticipation for the product and service. However, this is a slippery slope. People have a very short attention span these days, and unless there is evidence of something coming very soon, a consumer tends to move on.
Now I personally have little doubt that Slacker is real. You can go to their website and listen to music. Their explanation of the capabilities of the Slacker portable player seem reasonable and realistic, and for a brief time there was even a phone number to call. BUT......That is where the flash and sizzle stopped. E-mails and telephone messages have gone unanswered, and now the contact information has trimmed out the telephone number in favor of e-mail and fax.
Now I will be the first to admit that SSG is not a pantheon in the electronics world, and that we have a modest following, but one would at least think that some sort of answer would come from somewhere. Alas, there has been no contact, and that leaves everyone with nothing but speculation, and some pretty cool internet radio stations.
I think back to Zing, and when they introduced their company and software. I placed a call, and spoke to individuals about Zing, the capabilities, the markets where their technology could be implemented, etc. So far, none of this seems to exist as far as slacker is concerned because I have yet to hear anything from them.
I happen to believe that the concept of Slacker is a very compelling product. I happen to feel that in many aspects, Slacker has outlined a next logical step in the MP3 world, and should they get their player to market, that they would quickly be able to develop a nice following. My discouragement comes in that when the surface of Slacker is scratched, there is not yet anything beneath.
Time will tell, and I will continue to research the company and the pending device.
Bad reception for Sirius and XM Shares of the two satellite radio firms have taken a hit since their merger plans were announced in February as Wall Street bets that a deal will not get approved By Paul R. La Monica, CNNMoney.com editor at large, March 26 2007
Consumers and investors currently can choose between two satellite radio companies. And although Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio are hoping to change that, Wall Street appears to be betting that their merger is not going to get approved. Shares of Sirius (Charts) and XM (Charts) are each trading lower than they were before the two companies announced last month that they intended to combine, forming one satellite radio giant with 14 million subscribers. Sirius Satellite Radio CEO Mel Karmazin has defended his company's planned merger with XM in Washington. But Wall Street is skeptical about the chances of a deal getting approved. Shares of Sirius and XM shot up earlier this year in anticipation of a merger. But the stocks have plunged back to Earth now that a deal has been announced. The deal would bring shock jocks Howard Stern and Opie and Anthony, as well as programs featuring Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart and satellite broadcasts of all major sporting events, under one corporate roof. When Sirius and XM unveiled their merger plans on President's Day, the terms of the deal valued XM's stock at $17.02 a share, a 22 percent premium from its price before the announcement....read more: here
Defining the competitive landscape: The Wall Street Journal comments on wireless delivery of content
What's New in Wireless: A look at mobile devices and services you can expect in the next year – and beyond By AMOL SHARMAMarch 26, 2007; Page R1, The Wall Street Journal
Remember when cellphones were just for calling? Over the past few years, cellphones have evolved from simple communication devices into multimedia powerhouses. First came cameras, then Web surfing, then music players. Now, get ready for a host of new features. In the next two to three years, consumers will be able to get TV broadcasts on their cellphones with better picture quality than current video offerings -- and a greater range of live programming from major networks like NBC, FOX, ABC and Comedy Central. THE JOURNAL REPORT 1 Businesses are finding2 all sorts of new uses for mobile devices. Plus, technology companies dream of One Device3 that can do it all. Now, if only we consumers would get on board.• See the complete Technology report4. Users will also get sophisticated software applications for surfing the mobile Web, and more services to connect with friends, share videos and exchange photos. And they'll likely see mobile devices that can roam seamlessly across Wi-Fi hot spots, cellular networks and new high-speed data networks, bringing a much faster and smoother surfing experience. And that's just the beginning. In the longer term, advances in battery, display and storage technology could make it possible to squeeze ever more functions onto smaller handsets. And cellphones could extend even further beyond the realm of communications, to be used as credit cards to pay for groceries and airline tickets, ID cards to swipe at security checkpoints and data-storage devices...read more: here
Defining the competitive landscape...here's another press clipping for the merger files...
AT&T Teams Up With Napster, Delivers Access To 3 Million Song Tracks Across Multiple Screens, Devices AT&T Wireless and Broadband Subscribers to Benefit From One Year of Free, Unlimited Music With Napster To Go SAN ANTONIO, March 26 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ --
Strike up the band. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T - News) and Napster (Nasdaq: NAPS - News) today announced a new offer that gives customers free unlimited access for one year to more than 3 million song tracks through Napster To Go® -- a $180 value -- allowing consumers to customize playlists on their PC and seamlessly transfer favorite tunes to compatible wireless phones and music devices. This move further blurs the line between communications and entertainment as well as wireless and wireline services...read more: here
Sirius + XM, here's another press clipping for your merger files...
Local Radio Is Cutting the Static and Going Digital, Finally By JOHN R. QUAIN, Mar 25, The New York Times
AS drivers pick their way down the West Side Highway of Manhattan, the noise is often more annoying than the traffic — and it’s not just the honking. What’s so irksome is the static from the car’s sound system, a result of congestion in the radio frequency spectrum in an area packed with AM and FM stations. But that analog annoyance may fade away as radio broadcasters, carmakers and consumer electronics companies make the transition to digital radio. While satellite radio customers have enjoyed the clean, crisp sound of digital reception, most people tuned to local stations are listening to analog broadcasts based on technology little changed in the last half-century. But more and more broadcasters are pushing a digital format called HD Radio, which rivals satellite radio quality and promises to eliminate the static. Introduced three years ago, HD Radio is the brand name for a technology developed by the iBiquity Digital Corporation of Columbia, Md. (HD is not an abbreviation for high definition, as it is used by television broadcasters). The HD system digitizes and compresses a station’s signal; the digital stream is then broadcast in the same frequency range used for the station’s analog AM and FM transmissions. The digital broadcast is sent alongside the analog signal, so you can listen to either analog or digital versions of the same content, and more important, there is no subscription charge. The HD signal also carries artist and title information that can be shown on the radio’s display panel....read more: here
SIRIUS AND XM COMMENT ON FCC HD RADIO DECISION Washington, DC and New York, NY – March 23, 2007 –
XM Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: XMSR) and SIRIUS Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI) today issued the following comment on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision adopting new rules for digital audio broadcasting: “The FCC decision underlines that HD radio on the AM/FM bands provide a real alternative to satellite, and that the current audio entertainment market is broad, robust and competitive. The decision will raise competition to a new level by stimulating the growth in HD radio stations (now 1200), enhancing its offerings to consumers, and establishing a process for the first time for free radio to compete for paid subscribers.” ...read more: here
Bob Peck issued a report prior to a Bear stearns conference call in which a debate about the merger was conducted. The report is very interesting, but perhaps the most interesting point in the report was this:
With Confidence in Merits We Believe The Merger Will Likely Be Approved
(bolded sections were underlined in the report)
"After attending our 3rd satellite radio hearing in DC, reviewing the recent filings, speaking with various legal and political contacts, and working through the merits of the merger proposal, we believe the proposed merger is likely to pass regulatory hurdles with appropriate concessions. We underscore though that if political forces are more powerful than the merits of the deal, the outcome may be different. However, our sense is that the deal will be judged on merits and is therefore likiely to pass. Our opinion is in fact a vote of confidence in the FCC and DOJ, who we believe will base their decisions on what's best for consumers and the American public."
NEW YORK -- The way Border Media Partners’ head Tom Castro sees it, the radio industry spends “far too much time looking for the next best thing that is going to save us and not enough time doing what we do best -- calling on clients and finding new ones.”
Castro, who appeared Thursday (March 22) on a panel session about radio values, revenues and finance billed “Recovering Radio’s Momentum” at the Kagan Radio/TV Values and Finance Summit in New York, emphasized to Wall Street analysts and lenders in the audience that “the overwhelming part of our business is making the cash register ring for local businesses.”
For Castro’s fast-growing, Hispanic-focused group of 34 radio stations, formed in 2003, that approach is working. He says revenues grew by 18% or 19% on same-station sales and he expects the same sort of growth this year. “Business is good. We have focused on traditional radio business.”
Saga Communications VP/treasurer and CFO Sam Bush recalled how the company recently held a basic sales training session in its Keene, N.H., cluster focused on better servicing old clients who had fallen away from radio and on finding new business. The deal netted Saga more than $400,000 in new business immediately, Bush said, adding that the successful experiment is being deployed to other Saga markets.
Emmis chairman, president and CEO Jeffrey Smulyan agreed. “We’ve done a marginal job on developing business.” He said the industry ought to consider Google’s plan to make buying larger chunks of radio time across the board simpler. “We need to have an easier way for advertisers to buy mass radio.”
Asked if radio had reached it maturity level considering all of the new audio competition -- satellite radio, iPods, etc -- Castro observed, “Radio is not a mature business, it’s just been around a long time. The newspaper business is a mature business.”
BOO-HOO: CRAMER By RODDY BOYD, The New York Post, March 23, 2007
Controversial CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer took to the airwaves yesterday to try and dig himself out of the public relations disaster he launched when a video clip of him discussing how to manipulate stock prices came to light. In a Webcast clip, which was posted Dec. 22 on TheStreet.com, Cramer appears to - at least tacitly - endorse manipulative stock trading practices, including spreading rumors to "a bozo reporter" at The Wall Street Journal and CNBC reporter Bob Pisani. In the widely watched clip, Cramer said that a hedge fund manager engaging in these dubious practices had little to fear since the "Securities and Exchange Commission doesn't get it." Calling in to MSNBC's "Imus In The Morning" program yesterday, Cramer alternated between blaming himself for not being "more clear" and the New York Post - which first reported on the clip - for his woes. "I learned a big lesson here: you got to be a little more clear . . . you can't be as glib, because people will interpret this as being that you're a bad guy," Cramer told Don Imus. Cramer was directly apologetic about his video clip references to CNBC's New York Stock Exchange reporter Bob Pisani....read more: here
Today, the FCC approved HD Rules, which allows broadcasters to begin HD multicasting without prior approval from the commission. In addition, AM stations, which are currently limited to daytime-only HD operation, will be allowed to go digital at night.
According to Billboard.biz, new labels have decided to file suit against XM.
Publishers Sue XM Satellite Radio March 22, 2007 - Legal and Management
By Susan Butler, N.Y.
A group of music publishers sued XM Satellite Radio over the XM + MP3 service late today (March 22). EMI Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell Music, Sony/ATV Music and Famous Music claim they want to "put an end to the pervasive and willful copyright infringement" of their compositions distributed over the service to "iPod-like devices controlled by XM."
"We've read that XM paid Oprah $55 million to develop content," says David Israelite, president/CEO of the National Music Publishers' Assn. "Yet they haven't paid one penny to creators of music for copies on these devices."
XM has argued in the past that it functions only as a radio broadcaster, licensing the compositions from performing rights organizations ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. "The lawsuit filed by the NMPA is a negotiating tactic to gain an advantage in our ongoing business discussions," says a spokesman for XM in a statement. "XM pays royalties to writers and composers who are also compensated by our device manufacturers. We are confident that the lawsuit is without merit and that we will prevail."
The publishers claim that the service does not merely broadcast recorded songs; it delivers perfect digital copies of songs for its customers to copy to the devices, create extensive libraries of the songs and replay them for as long as the listeners pay XM's monthly fee. Yet XM has not licensed the right to reproduce or distribute the recorded compositions, publishers claim.
The suit, filed in the federal District Court in New York, comes one month after a judge in the same court handed major labels a partial victory in their case against XM over the service. In January, federal District Court Judge Deborah Batts denied XM's attempt to dismiss the labels' lawsuit. The two suits could be consolidated so the same judge would preside over both claims.
Israelite says that negotiations began with president/CEO Hugh Panero over a year ago. "XM's final, best offer was far from adequate," says Israelite. He declined to provide specific details of the offer, citing a confidentiality agreement between the parties concerning details of the discussions.
Sirius Satellite Radio, part of the $13 billion proposed merger with XM, settled similar claims with labels over its Sirius S50 portable device last year. Israelite says that Sirius has not yet settled with publishers; he expects negotiations to start up again soon.
Named as plaintiffs in the suit are Famous, the Viacom-owned independent publisher, and 26 other publishers owned by EMI, Warner/Chappell or Sony/ TV. Although Universal Music Publishing Group and BMG Music Publishing are not named as plaintiffs, they are also part of the suit since it was filed by the NMPA on behalf of its members.
"In these types of cases, you find some representative plaintiffs," says Israelite. "This suit is really a fight for the entire publishing industry."
The publishers seek a maximum of $150,000 per infringement, listing in the complaint more than 200 songs as a "small fraction" of the compositions infringed. They include "Let It Be," "My Heart Will Go On," "Me and Bobby McGee" and "Like a Prayer."
"We don't want to hold back the technology, we don't want to prevent consumers' choice of how to acquire music," says Israelite. "But we must be sure that our creators are compensated properly when copies of their music are made."
Debra Wong Yang, former U.S. Attorney for Los Angeles and now a partner with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, is lead attorney in the case for the publishers.
With the Sirius and XM merger application filed, it seems appropriate to discuss news events in the competitiveness of the sector:
According to Radio & Records:
The FCC has approved Citadel Broadcasting’s acquisition of 24 Disney/ABC Radio stations. However, as part of the deal, Citadel has agreed to spin-off 11 of the stations it currently owns in order to not exceed the FCC’s local ownership cap rules. Those 11 stations will be transferred into a trust while Citadel begins the process of finding buyers for them.
When the acquisition was announced in February 2006, the deal was valued at $2.7 billion.
In a statement, FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein said that he approved of the deal in part, “Because of Citadel’s commitment to comply with our media ownership rules and to make special efforts to increase diversity of ownership. One of the positive results of this merger is that Citadel is losing its grandfathering rights with respect to eleven stations in seven markets in which its attributable [sic] radio interests exceed our local radio ownership limits. I am pleased that Citadel decided to resolve this issue by creating a non-attributable trust for the purpose of divesting the merged entity of these non-compliant stations.”
Commissioner Michael Copps added, “While I am always troubled by the effects on our media environment of allowing a large media conglomerate to acquire even more stations, I believe this transaction is narrowly—quite narrowly—in the public interest because ABC’s and Citadel’s holdings do not overlap in any local market and, most important, because Citadel must divest the 11 stations that it owns in excess of our local ownership limits.”
Copps tagged his comments with this: “I will be watching the trust’s efforts closely to ensure the results envisioned in this item.”
According to Radio & Records, the FCC has approved the With a 5-0 vote, FCC commissioners approved regulations that allow broadcasters to begin HD multicasting without prior approval from the commission. In addition, AM stations, which are currently limited to daytime-only HD operation, will be allowed to go digital at night. The vote occurred at the commission's regularly scheduled monthly meeting on March 22.
The decision has been delayed since last summer, when commissioners debated whether to impose some of the same public interest obligations that apply to regular over-the-air stations to HD stations. No new public interest obligations were adopted as part of this vote.
Meanwhile, the NAB issued a statement from president and CEO David K. Rehr applauding FCC chairman Kevin Martin and the commission for "taking a significant step in advancing the already budding HD Radio technology."
"As HD Radio expands across America, we are hopeful the commission recognizes the unique role played by local radio and the considerable public service contributions voluntarily made by stations within their communities," Rehr added, addressing the previously stated public interest concerns.iBiquity Digital's president and CEO Bob Struble also weighed in on the FCC's decision. "iBiquity Digital commends the FCC for its decision today to authorize the use of two additional HD Radio services – multicasting and datacasting – and allow AM HD Radio stations to begin nighttime broadcasting. Today’s decision reinforces the Commission's support for the HD Radio system and provides automakers, broadcasters, receiver manufacturers and retailers with the certainty of formal adoption of critical HD Radio services. We anticipate this action will also prompt a surge of activity from companies in each of these industries as they look to capitalize on the continuing momentum of the HD Radio rollout."
FCC's Martin Likes Sound of Karmazin Rebate Proposal By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 3/21/2007 5:26:00 PM
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said Wednesday that Mel Karmazin's proposal to reimburse subscribers for blocked adult channels "may be a good idea" with the caveat that he has yet to study it. Talking to reporters Wednesday, and saying that the merger applications had just been filed, Martin said it was too early to comment directly to the proposal that subscribers would be given rebates for adult channels they chose to block, but he said that it sounded, in general "like a good idea." The proposal seemed to dovetail neatly with his a la carte model of parental control He did say that he had been encouraging the cable industry to give parents more control "for quite some time" with some form of a la carte programming. "One of the options I have encouraged is allowing parents to block channels and also [have] the companies reimburse the price they are charging consumers for the price of content they don't want. I think that a block and reimburse mechanism may be a good idea."...read more: here
Arch nemesis WCS Coalition delivered a shocker on Monday. They stated that they would not oppose Sirius' request to put repeaters in Hawaii and Alaska, nor would they oppose the 15 additional repeaters that Sirius requested. They will no longer oppose any repeaters below 2,000 EIRP. Previously, they opposed any repeater operating over 2,000 W EIRP peak. Despite their objections, the FCC granted the STA for XM to operate a repeater at PGA events that exceeded this limit, stating that they would resolve the issue of peak versus average in a rulemaking proceeding. The Coalition acquiesced and will no longer opposed repeaters on this basis, provided that they are operated on a non-interference basis and below 2,000 EIRP, peak or average.This is nothing short of a break through for repeaters operating below 2,000 W EIRP....read more: here