Thursday, February 22, 2007

Loose talk about the proposed XM/Sirius merger

Earlier this week, I asked sources at various manufacturers for both their official and unofficial views on XM and Sirius getting together.

The official statements were boring, boring, boring! Lots of fence sitting, and wait-and-see-ing. Frankly, you can read those anywhere on the net. Instead, I'll distill and exerpt the best comments from industry insiders who absolutely, positively refused to go on the record.

Anonymous Insider #1:
Don't know yet [what the implications to our hardware are]. The two systems are not compatible. Who knows how long it'll take for the FCC and the CRTC to make up their minds? The XM subscriber base is larger but at the end of the day that might not count for much in the eyes of the regulators.

Anonymous Insider #2:
It appears that eventually subscribers will have to purchase new equipment that can access both systems as XM will carry some of the programming & Sirius will carry the balance. So if a subscriber does not upgrade to a new unit, he/she will lose a lot of programming he/she is paying for & you know there won't be any discounts for partial service.
This merger only affects the U.S. market at this point. The Canadian side will have to jump thru a lot of hoops with the CRTC to get the merger approved & with one of them being a public company & the other totally private, well, it remains to be seen.

Anonymous Insider #3:
We, meaning those companies that build XM Ready receivers, already have a slight compatibility problem. The AudioVox/Terk antennae that are designed to just plug into our units have been discontinued in favour of the XM Passport. The Passport is a small chip about 1 1/4 inches square (looks similar to a SD memory chip) which carries all the XM radio info, including the ESN. Now the customer has to buy an adaptor to fit the chip. The adaptor then plugs into the receiver. The price is not bad, $69.95 CDN for the chip & home kit and it is pretty neat technology, but the old system was only $49.95.
Here's a link to the Passport -
Anyways, jury is out for now in Canada but depending on how it goes, I may cancel my subscription because I paid for XM, not Sirius (I believe XM has better programming) & will not settle for a watered down version.

Anonymous Insider #4
There are significant obstacles in achieving hardware compatibility. I can't help but think that somehow, somewhere, someone is going to get screwed. Whether that someone is the manufacturers of equipment, or the end users, or both, is too soon to say.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your anonymous sources made some interesting points about the putative merger for satellite radio. I have been reading at some of the articles in several newspapers and had been inclined to wonder what good it would do to merge two purveyors of a media which is probably outmoded, each purveyor burdened with significant debt, and as if that were not enough, there is the little matter of incompatible hardware. The American hearings will be the scene of much bathos, I would imagine, as the purveyors argue for their underdog status in the media hierarchy.