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Justice Dept. Approves XM/Sirius Merger

Zonk posted about 6 years ago | from the two-great-tastes dept.

Toys 232

Ripit writes "Just yesterday the Justice Department approved the merger of Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Radio, a Sirius takeover to the tune of $5 billion. The transaction was approved without conditions, despite opposition from consumer groups and an intense lobbying campaign by the land-based radio industry. 'In explaining the decision, Justice officials said the options beyond satellite radio -- digital recordings, high-definition radio, Web radio -- mean that XM and Sirius could merge without diminishing competition. "There are other alternatives out there," Assistant Attorney General Thomas O. Barnett said in a conference call. "We just simply found that the evidence didn't indicate that it would harm consumers."'"

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232 comments

Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (1, Insightful)

RaigetheFury (1000827) | about 6 years ago | (#22856650)

Am I missing something? This is like Comcast and Time Warner merging. There wouldn't BE any more competition.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (2, Informative)

OrochimaruVoldemort (1248060) | about 6 years ago | (#22856716)

WolrdSpace [worldspace.com] is still left and they are international

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (2, Interesting)

Scaba (183684) | about 6 years ago | (#22857106)

...and has no coverage in the US and Canada, which is where Sirius and XM operate.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (5, Insightful)

pnewhook (788591) | about 6 years ago | (#22857446)

The issue has little to do with what competition remains within satellite radio, but whether there remains competition. Satellite radio competes with broadcast radio and a number of other formats, so the merger does not remove competition, but makes the combined company more efficient and less likely to lose money.

Both XM and Sirius are bleeding money right now and that can't last forever. If the the industry allowed them both to go under that would counterproductive to helping competition.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (1)

Scaba (183684) | about 6 years ago | (#22857596)

You may have replied to the wrong post. OP offered Worldspace as an alternative to Sirius and/or XM, and I simply pointed out they are not, as they are not available in the markets in which Sirius and XM are, and vice versa.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (4, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | about 6 years ago | (#22856718)

Yeah, you'll have one company offering satellite radio. And thousands of companies offering AM/FM radio, internet streaming radio...

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (1)

ciggieposeur (715798) | about 6 years ago | (#22856840)

internet streaming radio...

Which we will hear in the car how exactly?

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 6 years ago | (#22857074)

Which we will hear in the car how exactly?
As part of your data plan on a smartphone, apparently.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22857092)

If you can get the internet on your cell phone while your in you car, why wouldn't a wireless internet based car stereo be plausible?

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (2, Insightful)

mea37 (1201159) | about 6 years ago | (#22857098)

Satelite TV doesn't meet the needs of every TV viewer; it's still considered to be in competition with cable, even though some viewers (those in some apartments; or located such that they can't get a good view of the sky in the right direction) can't use it.

The government's role in approving mergers is not designed to ensure that you personally will have multiple choices of product to meet your individual needs; it's to promote competition in the market as a whole. Internet streaming radio is a valid factor in the market.

Regardless, there are options other than sat radio for use in your car. Such as AM, FM and high-def; and arguably tape, CD, and iPod. When someone looks at a presented list of options, picks the one that doesn't apply to him or her and complains about that one... that just sounds like someone wanting to complain.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (1)

plague3106 (71849) | about 6 years ago | (#22857278)

How exactly do I get internet streaming radio in my car? Or uncensored music / talk broadcasts?

Let's try something different; based on your assumption that sat. radio is competing with iPods, terristrial radio and CDs, should we now allow all FM stations to merge into one? After all, they are competing with sat. radio, iPods, etc.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (2, Insightful)

pnewhook (788591) | about 6 years ago | (#22857520)

Let's try something different; based on your assumption that sat. radio is competing with iPods, terristrial radio and CDs, should we now allow all FM stations to merge into one? After all, they are competing with sat. radio, iPods, etc.

It's all got to do with percentage market share. If you look at broadcast and satellite market as a whole, if both XM and Sirius had say 40% or ever 20% of that market each, then no they wouldn't be permitted to merge. Letting XM and Sirius merge at this point does not reduce choice as the percentage market share is too tiny.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22856880)

And AM/FM radio is exactly the same as satellite, right? For example, you can get the same signal driving across the country? The service from satellite is different.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (4, Insightful)

gnick (1211984) | about 6 years ago | (#22857208)

For example, you can get the same signal driving across the country? The service from satellite is different.
You're right - The service is different. But, the competition isn't over who'll provide your satellite radio service. It's over who'll entertain your ears. I can drive across the country while listening to continuous content from my mp3 player. Of course the service is different. But, if I'm listening to mp3s, I'm not listening to satellite. The same goes for the, again different, AM/FM service.

XM is not the biggest competitor for Sirius (nor vice versa). CD/MP3 players and AM/FM broadcasts are - and HD radio is marketing aggressively to try to maintain that market segment. The driver for lowering satellite radio prices and improving content is persuading people that it's worthwhile to adopt satellite radio and pay the subscription fees. A market war between two satellite providers would only drive prices up and deteriorate service quality.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (4, Informative)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 years ago | (#22858112)

You're right - The service is different. But, the competition isn't over who'll provide your satellite radio service. It's over who'll entertain your ears.

But, increasingly, the traditional radio stations are all owned by Clear Channel and the satellite stations are the only ones offering content like that. If you're looking for continuous, commercial free, specialized radio channels with national coverage .... is there really any competition left after this merger?

If the choice is down to the Clear-Channel payola and commercial dominated crap, or the now merged Sirius/XM broadcast on satellite, that hardly represents consumer choice. This is like a choice between the "old radio model" and the "new subscription model", with the option of playing your own CDs and MP3s thrown in.

Then again, I've long stopped expecting US regulators to actually do anything which preserves choice for consumers -- they just do what the corporations want.

A market war between two satellite providers would only drive prices up and deteriorate service quality.

And how will creating a new monopoly in the market not eventually drive up prices and deteriorate service quality -- I simply don't believe it's evey played out differntly. They're not in competition with the traditional radio stations, so among people looking for an alternative, there would now be exactly one game in town. Once there is one game in town (*cough* Comcast *cough*) they can abuse you all they like.

Satellite was the only alternative to the traditional model. I must say, I just don't get how this is ultimately better for consumers.

Cheers

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (2, Insightful)

petik (887539) | about 6 years ago | (#22858202)

A market war between two satellite providers would only drive prices up and deteriorate service quality.
How do you figure? "Market war", or competition, generally drives prices down, not up.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 6 years ago | (#22858086)

And AM/FM radio is exactly the same as satellite, right? For example, you can get the same signal driving across the country? The service from satellite is different.


Not necessarily same signal, but same content since ClearChannel and the like have all the "standard stations" in every market now, no? Sure you'll have to retune often, but it's pretty certain if you like say, KISS FM, you'll find the same station the next town over as well, also called (conveniently enough) "KISS FM".

Of course, this brings up the question of if you like non-bland radio you can get anywhere...

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (-1, Troll)

spleen_blender (949762) | about 6 years ago | (#22856724)

There is also no demand for this hardly. Seriously, satellite radio is such a waste of valuable resources.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (1)

Verteiron (224042) | about 6 years ago | (#22857356)

Repeat this sentiment, loudly and clearly, at your nearest US truck stop. I think you'll find some people that disagree with you, and reap the benefits of their courteous explanations.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (-1, Flamebait)

spleen_blender (949762) | about 6 years ago | (#22857506)

Ah, the vast population of US truckers. I forget how large of a group they are. Are you kidding me, of course there is going to be a niche demographic that has to benefit from something like this, but at large this is an unneeded service. My previous statement however I agree is with too broad of a brush and I retract it.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (5, Informative)

Dunkz (901542) | about 6 years ago | (#22856782)

They have to compete with every free radio station in the country, internet radio and other forms of music/entertainment content.

Comparing this with TV is the short-bus way of looking at it. TV you can only get from Cable (usually only one player in town), Satellite, or OTA (which isn't eveywhere either). I don't know of many places that you can't get at least 10 radio statios + internet.

It's a "new" format and it has to compete with other audio broadcast formats out there. Look at the bigger picture.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (4, Informative)

eln (21727) | about 6 years ago | (#22857016)

I don't know of many places that you can't get at least 10 radio statios + internet.
Clearly, you've never driven anywhere in the western United States, particularly the mountain west. I've taken many a road trip through west Texas or around the four corners area where I can go hours without a single radio station. Sometimes, I'll get one static-filled religious or country station, hit the seek button, and watch the dial go all the way around and end up right back at the same station.

Having said that, even though I make trips like this at least twice a year, I still don't have satellite radio, because I don't see the need. Even with my cheap factory installed car stereo with no auxiliary jacks, I can burn a few CDs from my MP3 collection to fill the hours when there are no decent radio stations. Maybe if I did that sort of traveling on a monthly basis or something. Regardless, I have a hard time seeing the appeal of paying a monthly fee for radio unless I'm a traveling salesman or something. Radio is not like TV, it's not something that people will generally listen to in their spare time. It's usually something people listen to when there are no other entertainment options, such as when they're driving.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22857504)

Which is exactly the problem with this merger. Much like satellite TV (until a few years back), satellite radio does not compete with other forms of radio. Why? Because they'd have to drastically lower prices. Instead they want to screw people who don't have access to other services. Why try for 90% of the market when you can charge 10x the price to 9% of the market? Of course it also means no growth and gradual stagnation.

Of course the merger doesn't matter for a different reason. The two services never competed with each other. They basically had a unspoken deal never to lower prices. Notice how they cost exactly the same amount for almost exactly the same thing.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (1)

Amouth (879122) | about 6 years ago | (#22857682)

i have an xm raido for my car - the selling points to me is .. with the subscription i also get the streaming connection - so all day when i am at work i can listen to it - and when i am in the car i can listen to it. i like having good high quality clasical chans' along with the old time radio shows - and what ever other type i want to listen to - without having to hunt down stations or listening to blaring car sales adds for 15min of my 30min commute.. i like that they have a 40's big band station on xm . there is no local FM/AM station that plays that. nor do i have a huge MP3 collection of that style..

i diffently see the use for it. i just hope they don't merge and drop the chans i listen to.. cause then i will be canceling

as for the poeple that comment on the extra cost of the radio - all radio's cost money.. just normaly the am/fm one is built into the cost of the car - and while xm radios can be expensive (who the hell pays 300$ for a damn radio anyways) you can always pick up pefectly good older versions cheap.. the one i got for my wife was 30$ and included the car kit

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (2, Interesting)

martin_b1sh0p (673005) | about 6 years ago | (#22857974)

I have XM and while it's not for everyone, I love it. I have a daily 50 mile (round) trip to work M-F. It's about an hour a day on the road. If you hate commercials as much as I do then it's totally worth it. I could listen to CDs but I get tired quickly of the same songs over and over. On top of that, I stream XM through my 360 to the main stereo at home...great for parties, like when we had the fam over this Easter weekend.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (-1, Flamebait)

ivan256 (17499) | about 6 years ago | (#22858094)

I hate commercials too... But I hate losing signal when I go under a bridge, or when there's a big tree next to the road, or when it's cloudy. I hate it even more when I paid $120/year for that signal...

So I just listen to CDs instead. If you get a changer that plays MP3 CDs it takes a long time to even get through all the songs, much less get tired of them.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (1)

eht (8912) | about 6 years ago | (#22858022)

This guy right here is proof that there was a viable alternative even when there were two satellite radio providers and no land based radio stations.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (2, Insightful)

BBandCMKRNL (1061768) | about 6 years ago | (#22858212)

Having said that, even though I make trips like this at least twice a year, I still don't have satellite radio, because I don't see the need. Even with my cheap factory installed car stereo with no auxiliary jacks, I can burn a few CDs from my MP3 collection to fill the hours when there are no decent radio stations. Maybe if I did that sort of traveling on a monthly basis or something. Regardless, I have a hard time seeing the appeal of paying a monthly fee for radio unless I'm a traveling salesman or something.
In our case, that "something" is the following: I live in a city of over 1.5 million people but there is no jazz radio station of any type. This makes the price of satellite radio worth it to my wife. In my case, the fact that I can listen to several rock channels without any annoying commercials makes it worth it to me.

My only complaint is that both satellite services went for quantity in the quantity vs. quality tradeoff and as a result their audio is better than FM but not CD quality. I'm hoping that if the merger goes through and digital FM takes off, they will merge the duplicate satellite channels into CD quality channels.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 6 years ago | (#22857138)

I don't know of many places that you can't get at least 10 radio statios + internet.

Try almost anyplace between the Mississippi river and California.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (4, Informative)

JeremyGNJ (1102465) | about 6 years ago | (#22856808)

The competition isnt between "satellite radio companies". The competition is between "what people listen to in their car".

Your choices are:
1. Pay service like XM / Sirius
2. "Free" radio (and all the commercials that come with it)
3. iPods / MP3s / podCasts

They are all in direct competition for people's ears as they commute.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (1)

plague3106 (71849) | about 6 years ago | (#22857326)

So why don't we allow ALL free radio stations to merge also, based on that "competition?"

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (2)

UncleGizmo (462001) | about 6 years ago | (#22857724)

Many have. Check out the major owners, who now own multiple stations within a market - Bonneville, Clear Channel, etc. The only time it would be halted is if one corporation was moving to a monopoly position.

The "airwaves" are supposed to be public/free, and are licensed by the FCC. Satellite is not under FCC's jurisdiction as it goes beyond the public spectrum. It was purely a lobbyist's game that held this up for so long.

Interesting how Murdoch can take over the WSJ with all the holdings in news media (print/airwaves) with nary a hitch in the proceedings, but something outside the gov't (and lobbyists') regulatory control takes more than a year.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (4, Insightful)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | about 6 years ago | (#22856842)

You're missing a lot.

XM/Sirius is a pay service. They offer music, news, talk shows, etc.

AM/FM radio is free. They offer music, news, talk shows, etc.

iPods can be used to listen to music, news (podcasts, etc), talk shows, etc. (also for free)

New emerging technologies like wimax may offer alternative ways of streaming music, news, talk shows, etc.

This is basically what the DoJ ultimately decided. There are enough alternatives for content delivery that a merger of these two wouldn't create a monopoly in the economic sense. True they may be the only company offering services by satellite but they certainly couldn't jack up the prices without customers leaving for perfectly viable alternatives like terrestrial radio, iPods, etc.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (1)

mc900ftjesus (671151) | about 6 years ago | (#22857412)

As soon as they try to screw with prices, people drop satellite. I will at the drop of a hat even though I really like it, I won't let them gouge me like cable. My phone can stream from home with Orb or tune Internet radio so I'm definitely not going to be pushed around. With HD radio, at least there's competition in audio quality, but 'll never go back to terrestrial radio again, it's just awful anymore.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 6 years ago | (#22857780)

New emerging technologies like wimax may offer alternative ways of streaming music, news, talk shows, etc.

I wouldn't count on WiMax:

http://www.commsday.com/node/228 [commsday.com]

Maybe the 700MHz band would be more useful,but I'm not counting on it.

I understand what you mean, but frankly, both XM and Sirius agreed to never merge with another sat radio provider when they got their license. They are trying to back out of that agreement after they've nearly bankrupted themselves spending their money in incredibly unwise ways. I really don't see why we should pity them or throw them a line.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (4, Insightful)

JBMcB (73720) | about 6 years ago | (#22856864)

It's closer to DirecTV and Dish merging. Neither has a whole lot of subscribers, and their real competition is cable and free TV, along with the internet, etc...

Satellite radio's real competition is terrestrial radio (analog and HD) along with MP3 players. That's who they have to compete with, if people don't want to pay for their service they don't have to, there are other places to go.

KA-CHIIIINNNGGGG (1)

zubikov (1172699) | about 6 years ago | (#22857244)

I know this is not the forum for investing, but does anyone else see Sirius and XM being really attractive right now? We're on the verge of having FCC's blessing and SIRI is trading at $2.99? The merger is the only way that both companies can stay alive and make a profit, and they just got the govt's OK to go through with it. I think this is a clear winner. Just my $0.02.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (2, Insightful)

Phat_Tony (661117) | about 6 years ago | (#22857284)

I agree with all the replies that state the same thing the summary said- there's so much competition to using satellite radio at all that you don't need competition within satellite radio. But I also wanted to point out your example's pretty bad- how many markets are there where Time Warner and Comcast actually compete? I'm not aware of any. They're two companies that mostly own a whole bunch of geographically distinct local cable monopolies. They'd actually be an example of two companies where there isn't much economic basis for restricting a merger between them, because they aren't in competition with each other. Or at least they aren't competing for customers in many markets. They do compete to acquire other cable companies and such.

Examples of their competition are satellite TV, broadcast TV, and to a lesser extent Netflix, Blockbuster, Youtube, Tivo, iTunes, Bittorrent, movie theaters, etc. Because they aren't geographically constrained, Sirius and XM are actually in much greater competition than your example of Time Warner/Comcast, who barely compete at all.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (1)

Sandbags (964742) | about 6 years ago | (#22857352)

Well, considdering I have XM, but I listed to my local radio station about 10 times more often, because I want to hear traffic reports, local weather, local events, and god forbid occasionally a DJ speak.

When traveling, i find I listed to the iPod more often than radio.

With a new baby, likely I'll be listening to childrens crap more than my own too.

HD and digital terestrial radio are solid competition to sattelite. With things coming down the pipe from cellphone companies, and their digital networks, don't be surprised if your cell phone (or car stereo itself) could tune into digital music broadcast on chanels from cell towers, even giving you the ability to drive coast to coast and listed to the same station without using sattelite.

This merger allows both companies to combine their contracts, eliminate internal competition, and save a lot of money. They'll also have a more complete offering, and with ala carte billing, many people will likely have lower bills. they also won't be advertising quite so much further lowering costs.

Sure, you may have to buy a new radio when the merger is done, but I'm guessing all you will likely need on some radios is a firmware upgrade, on others, maybe a chip exchanged. I would not hesitate to guess that most of the radios manufactured after the merger process was started (when it got far enough that the 2 boards agreed to it and sought JOD approval) have had the ability to receive all the chanels available from both services and simply need an update when it kicks over. Face it, the units wouldn't have a 3 digit chanel ID (since day 1 in 2002?) if they only supported 99 chanels... My cable box actually only has a 3 digit readout, but I get up to channel 1299. It rebooted one day and *poof* they added 300 more channel slots and reorganized the line-up to make more logical sense. I doubt the reciever in my XM radio was hard locked to a specific subset of frequencies knowing that XM might one day add more chanels on it's own... they should be able to software unlock more channels at will. It would be bad business to tell all your paying subscribers "Hey, we have all this new stuff, and a lower price too, but to use it you need to spend $90 on a new unit, and you have 3 months to change..."

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (1)

UncleGizmo (462001) | about 6 years ago | (#22857598)

except for all the other terrestrial radio stations. And HD radio. And Internet radio. And anyone else who can afford to launch a satellite into outer space.

Re:Umm... what other Satellite Radio is there? (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | about 6 years ago | (#22857958)

Every business is a monopoly if you look at a sufficiently small market niche. Theoretical competition generally assumes that the goods produce are perfect substitutes, which is never true. The good news is, in our rich society, almost all the demand is elastic as most goods and services are to some extent substitutes. Satellite radio does not only compete with broadcast radio or mp3 players, it competes with your beach vacation, the nearby steakhouse you're considering going to, this movie you're unsure about going to, etc.

since Satellite radio has so few consumers (3, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | about 6 years ago | (#22856678)

"We just simply found that the evidence didn't indicate that it would harm consumers."
...since Satellite radio has so few consumers...

Re:since Satellite radio has so few consumers (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | about 6 years ago | (#22856788)

Since competition only really benefits customers when the competing companies can force each other to become more efficient, and the 'satellite' radio infrastructure is fixed (satellites+ground based repeaters) - then prices can only go *so* low.

And so the only real way to decrease price is to increase the customer base, I'm surprised it took so long to approve this merger. In so many ways, it is similar to the government sanctioned cable monopolies - building two competing 'satellite' networks would drive costs up, not down.

Re:since Satellite radio has so few consumers (2)

Enry (630) | about 6 years ago | (#22857088)

They're close to about 20M listeners between them.

For those of you complaining about why pay for a service you get for free, I'd ask the same thing about free air TV vs. cable. In general, I don't like broadcast TV, and I don't like free-air radio. Cable has a large number of options, and so does satellite. I like being able to jump from a channel of strictly 80s music to a channel with traffic and weather for the area I'm in to music my 5 year old will want to listen to and then switch over to some electronica after she falls asleep.

No static, no channels fading in and out, and unless I'm listening to something like talk radio or rebroadcast of a TV channel like CNN, there are no commercials.

Don't like satellite? Fine, don't buy it. For people that do either a lot of commuting or lots of road travel, it's worth the money.

Stupid (1)

Verteiron (224042) | about 6 years ago | (#22856712)

That's great. I wonder how long it will be before the XM receiver in my car becomes worthless? I love the reasoning given by the government here. You'd swear that there was no investigation done at all, but of course that can't be true.

Re:Stupid (4, Insightful)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | about 6 years ago | (#22856800)

It won't become worthless. It'll likely become more valuable. If the merger completes then in the short term you'll likely see content being shared between the two services. Right now the various sports franchises have pitted the two satellite providers against each other for lucrative exclusive deals. You can hear NFL on Sirius only, MLB on XM only, etc. When the merger completes you'll likely be able to hear baseball on Sirius and football on XM. Other exclusive content, like Oprah on XM, Howard Stern on Sirius, etc. will also likely be made on the other service. So the bottom line is that you'll probably have more content available to you.

Eventually you'll probably see receivers that can receive both services, but that will depend a lot on how the companies decide to merge their two technologies. That likely won't happen for years though, and during all that time they have to keep supporting their existing customers.

Re:Stupid (-1, Flamebait)

plague3106 (71849) | about 6 years ago | (#22857404)

Oh shut up. From your post I can only assume you've read the press releases from both companies. Oprah isn't XM's competitor to Stern for one. And I decided that NFL isn't something I can to hear on the radio.. so why would I care it's an option? XM already has everything I want; all the merger will do is endanger the options I currently use.

Re:Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22857996)

"From your post I can only assume you've read the press releases from both companies"

From your posts, I don't have to assume you're a retard because you prove it.

"Oh shut up"

No assfuck, you shut up. All you've done with your multiple posts in this thread is take up space and make dumb irrelevant points. You obviously have no idea what the fuck is going on, so stop posting.

Re:Stupid (1, Informative)

nawcom (941663) | about 6 years ago | (#22856972)

As far as I know, you will be able to use either radio to receive the combined channels. this isn't gonna be the same as having HD-DVD vs Bluray players. They will probably stop manufacturing XM radios, but current xm radios will recieve the same as sirius radios.

Re:Stupid (0)

plague3106 (71849) | about 6 years ago | (#22857436)

No, they'll probably stop manufacturing Sirus radios.. their radios suck, XM has the advantage technology-wise.

Re:Stupid (1)

nawcom (941663) | about 6 years ago | (#22857952)

I can use as much info that you used, and say you are wrong, because, um, XM radios suck. Seriously, unsupported opinions make you look like a bitch in real life. How are XM radios "better?" I've had both. They are the same damn design internally. sexy buttons don't make a difference.

Worthless? (1)

tkrotchko (124118) | about 6 years ago | (#22857232)

How could it be worthless?

It's not like XM or Sirius would destroy their infrastructure (satellites) simply to sell more receivers. Besides which, if they made every radio receiver obsolete, how would they sell you their service?

What they'll have to do, at least for the medium term, is support a unified service that is transmitted in both infrastructures. In the longer term, since the frequencies are governed by the FCC, you'll probably see dual-receiver tuners, sort of like the AM/FM tuner in your car.

Do I wish there were more satellite services? Yes. But I'd rather have 1 than none. And XM and Sirius were probably less than 18 months away from one of the services declaring bankruptcy which would be terrible for consumers, since it would scare away investors from "new" forms of radio that are badly needed.

FCC (0, Troll)

JackSpratts (660957) | about 6 years ago | (#22856734)

Up to the FCC now to stop this megamerger. With Opie/Alex Keaton clone Kevin Martin at the helm I'm not expecting much deep thinking there tho.

- js.

Took them long enough... (3, Insightful)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | about 6 years ago | (#22856740)

XM & Sirius asked the justice department for approval over a year ago. Why on earth did it take them so long to approve this? Here are a few other mergers that the DoJ approved in under a year: Exxon/Mobil, AT&T/Bellsouth, Chevron/Texaco, Sprint/Nextel, Whirlpool/Maytag, etc.

Of course a number of these other huge mergers didn't require FCC approval as well. The XM/Sirius merger now as to wait for FCC approval, so it's going to end up being a lot longer before this is all said and done. It absolutely disgusts me that XM/Sirius is taking so much longer than the consolidation of the oil industry, telephone industry, etc. This will end up being the longest approval process in history. What justifies taking so long when mergers involving bigger economic concerns like oil took hardly any time in comparison?

Re:Took them long enough... (4, Informative)

Thagg (9904) | about 6 years ago | (#22856846)

The reason that this took so long to approve is that it is illegal on its face. The agreement that opened up the satellite spectrum for XM and Sirius specified unambiguously that no merger would be tolerated.

I agree that a year is a long time for the Bush so-called administration to make a ruling that contradicts a law. Usually that's done before morning tea.

Re:Took them long enough... (1)

will_die (586523) | about 6 years ago | (#22857522)

It was not an agreement it was a condition of the license and to waive that has not been decided upon. That is up to the FCC to decide if the condition of the license will be waived. The wording of the condition is that single company cannot hold both licenses for satelitte broadcasting. Since there is no one really wanting the extra license there is probably not going to be much problem on this. They will probably be forced to merge thier service, over time, and free up the other license.
But anyways what you said had nothing to do with this decision. This was about if allow the two companies to merge would create a monopoly. Based on usage, alternate forms of content availability and the way current users use the product it was decide it would not.

Re:Took them long enough... (-1, Troll)

sydbarrett74 (74307) | about 6 years ago | (#22857578)

Usually that's done before morning tea.
Don't you mean done before Bush's morning snort?

I don't beleive that's accurate (3, Interesting)

hassanchop (1261914) | about 6 years ago | (#22858216)

The agreement that opened up the satellite spectrum for XM and Sirius specified unambiguously that no merger would be tolerated.


That is not accurate.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XM/Sirius_merger [wikipedia.org]

The proposed merger faces scrutiny by the Federal Communications Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission, Department of Justice and possibly other federal organizations. The FCC also poses a major hurdle: when the satellite radio service was first created by the FCC, one of the licensing conditions was that one company could never own both satellite radio licenses.


They are restricted from having both licenses. The agreement does not, as you claim, say that "no merger would be tolerated."

Re:Took them long enough... (1)

boris111 (837756) | about 6 years ago | (#22857372)

What justifies taking so long when mergers involving bigger economic concerns like oil took hardly any time in comparison?
Because the radio spectrum is a limited resource and you need an entity to manage it... Oh... wait.. what were we talking about again?

Re:Took them long enough... (3, Funny)

bugnuts (94678) | about 6 years ago | (#22857706)

XM & Sirius asked the justice department for approval over a year ago. Why on earth did it take them so long to approve this?
The FCC had to make sure the offer was Sirius.

Identical to HDDVD vs Blu-Ray (1)

the computer guy nex (916959) | about 6 years ago | (#22856848)

HDDVD & Blu-Ray = XM and Sirius. DVDs = Terrestrial radio.

The adoption rate of XM and Sirius have been slowed because of the close competition. Many consumers simply could not justify the purchase of one over the other. I'm in this group, I would love to have a subscription to a satellite radio service but I liked certain aspects of each. This is very close to the high definition wars slowing adoption rate.

The difference is the same companies have stake in both current DVDs and their high definition counterparts. The longer the war went on, the more movie-makers lost. Terrestrial radio companies are upset because this could mark the beginning of the end.

It Is About Audio Entertainment (1)

wsuschmitt (1144069) | about 6 years ago | (#22856856)

It seems to me that the ruling was based on the variety of audio entertainment available to the consumer. It didn't focus on the specific industry of satellite radio; it centered on the fact that satellite radio is competing with land-based radio, CDs, podcasts, web streaming, HD radio, etc. With the perception that satellite radio is one of many versions of audio entertainment, this ruling makes sense to me.

Baba Booey to all of you (0, Troll)

snarfies (115214) | about 6 years ago | (#22856862)

AT&T-Bellsouth merger: 299 days to be approved. $85 billion, controls 22 states and 70 million subscribers.
Chevron-Texaco merger: 326 days to be approved. Don't know the numbers, but
Sirius-XM merger: 426 days to be approved (might be off by 2-3 days, have not seen an official figure)

Now, why would the government allow such giants to merge with such rapidity and form such major monopolies, but delay Sirius-XM for well over a year, when its a luxury (unlike oil or telephone service) that affects so few? Answer: This is the US government's continued persecution of Howard Stern. Clear Channel (who are dedicated to buying out and eliminating not only all local radio stations, but all local concert venues as well) should have been laughed out of any hearings on this matter at once.

Re:Baba Booey to all of you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22857236)

I REALLY doubt that the Howard Stern is high on anyone's list anymore. He has faded from the public eye. His shtick consists soley of boobies, screaming at his employees, and toilet humor. I think the FCC is more than happy to have him on satellite radio where no one is listening.

Re:Baba Booey to all of you (1)

ringdangdu (1179665) | about 6 years ago | (#22857782)

That is why Sirrus wants the merger so bad. They need to add all of XM subscribers to pay Sterns salary. And bring him back in to the proverbial picture. The reason they are so so slow in approving anything is tax payer money was put forth to create multiple systems. Two systems were created so that it would not become a utility and there would be competition in the market. Do you remember how freaking awful cable was before alternatives became available. There is also competition in the technology that they use. Another reason Sirrus wants XM is they created a better system with more coverage the Sirrus did.

I support this (3, Interesting)

bobetov (448774) | about 6 years ago | (#22856898)

I'm a Sirius subscriber, and in almost all cases, I find these kind of mergers to be bad for people like myself. But in this case, I think that the cost of market confusion, particularly with buying new cars, is more a burden than any perceived loss of choice. I find it intensely annoying to have one car Sirius capable, and the other XM capable, and now way of having both without $600 in after-market installation.

That said, if xSiriusM decides to raise prices or add back advertising or what have you, people will desert them in droves. Terrestrial radio is only worse because they have made a very strong effort to make satellite radio better. If they move towards a ClearChannel-esque service model, they'll be out of business in a year. Particularly ads. God help them if they put in ads.

Re:I support this (2, Insightful)

TheHorse13 (908512) | about 6 years ago | (#22857662)

I'm not sure what you listen to on Sirius but their main draw, the Howard Stern Show, started advertising 2 days into their broadcast. You can bet that since it is tolerated now, they will slowly creep in more across their line-up. I just purchased a new car that came with XM free for a month. I turned on the comedy channel and what did I find? Yep. Ads. You can be sure that all of us will be screwed (again) just like when cable TV promised commercial free viewing and movies right from the silver screen (how many places do movies go now BEFORE cable? 7 or 8?). Oh and don't forget about those service fee increases that always happen after companies merge (and after they say it won't happen). Now, I'm not saying that we won't get a better array of program choices, but I am saying that we are naive if we think that we're not going to eventually pay $20 a month for Xm/Sirius which will include plenty of advertising on their channels.

Re:I support this (1)

bobetov (448774) | about 6 years ago | (#22858184)

No one I know listens to Howard Stern, on Sirius or otherwise.

I listen to Coffee House (acoustic stuff), Chill (ambient/techno), Hits 1 and the Pulse.

I listen to these *all* the *time*. Because there's no ads. It's great.

I know the talk stuff has ads. I couldn't care less. But touch my ears with a Toyota sale-abration on the music stations, and I instantly unsubscribe.

IMO (1)

scubamage (727538) | about 6 years ago | (#22856914)

This really doesn't hurt consumers. If anything it will help grow satellite radio. Right now consumers have to choose between whether they want to listen to Opie and Anthony, or Howard Stern. Choose between the one that has decent electronica, or the one that has a channel for each decade. With the merger, consumers win... so long as Xirius (I think thats a cool new name) doesn't decide to jack up their prices.

Re:IMO (1)

plague3106 (71849) | about 6 years ago | (#22857510)

O&A fans aren't likely to listen to Stern, and visa versa. Also, Stern is a huge drain in the finances of Sirrus; he's way overpaid, and no one cares anymore what he does. As far as electroncia goes, I like what XM has, and I know XM has decade channels.. I assume Sirrus has decade channels as well, although I know they have other crap. My gym has Sirrius, and i never liked the channels they play.. and their DJs talk too much.

Re:IMO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22857984)

Stern is a huge drain in the finances of Sirrus; he's way overpaid, and no one cares anymore what he does

Sounds like someone needs a ride on the Sybian....or a coffee enema

people don't know what a monopoly is (2, Interesting)

nawcom (941663) | about 6 years ago | (#22856934)

I can't believe people look at this as a monopoly. I always ask people who state their opinion against the merge, "So which satellite radio service to you use?" "Oh, I'm not gonna pay for radio."

That shows you that most people don't know what a monopoly is. As long as you don't depend on satellite radio, your opinion doesn't matter. Listen to your free radio. That given, it shows that the 2 companies merging will not effect anyone who needs to have their radio.

Now what about Chevron-Texaco? People depend on gasoline in order to live (transportation) and I've only seen price go up. There are obviously other factors that play a role in gas costs; but when you look at that from a simple thinker's viewpoint, it shows that companies are merging all the time.

My opinion is also, that the NAB got so involved in stopping the merger because they don't want to deal with competition with satellite radio as a whole; they were happy that the 2 companies were fighting over subscribers in order to survive financially. Now they might actually have to compete with an alternative service.

I was a wee little shitling when cable television came into play, but I thought I heard something similar to this may had come up. Someone correct me if I got my facts wrong.

I know one of the major reasons they want to merge is to help take care of the billions they have loaned i n order to get this service up and running, and at the same time lower the cost-per-month for subscribers.

Long overdue (3, Interesting)

DaveInAustin (549058) | about 6 years ago | (#22856936)

I say this as an early XM subscriber from 2001, but these companies will have a hard time breaking even, even as a single company. There is too much competition from free radio and mp3 players now. hd-radio is the digital version of free radio and that will push satellite radio further into the niche category. HD-radio will effectively triple the number of public stations available in most urban areas. Even clear channel will have a hard time making all the new commercial radio channels bland. I realized the XM's real problem as I was driving in my car, listening to xm radio, not through an xm radio, but through its internet feed through my broadband card. Today, I can almost get my pick of thousands of stations today (many with better sound quality than XM) while I'm mobile. Think about what's going to happen when Verizon and AT&T get the new frequencies they just purchased in the recent auction [slashdot.org]. I know that most folks despise free commercial radio (outside of the public stations), and for people in remote areas, XM/Sirius might be your only option, but rest assured, things will get better. And this merger will help. For one, they might be able to reduce the overlapping stations and use the bandwidth for more alternatives (like bringing back edgier stations like ngoma and xm-unsigned and music lab).

Re:Long overdue (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 6 years ago | (#22857114)

Great idea in theory, but not in practice.

The platforms for XM and Sirius are wholly incompatible. You can bet that the new XM is not going to pay to maintain both. My speculation is that, in the immediate term, they will close down the Sirius studios and just pipe XM content to both platforms, effectively halving the cost of their programming while maintaining the same revenue. They will also probably stop selling Sirius hardware at some point and, as the satellite infrastructure reaches the end of its useful life, simply flip the breaker.

Profitability (1)

Detritus (11846) | about 6 years ago | (#22856976)

I haven't paid any attention to the business side of satellite radio. Was either one of the companies in financial trouble? If they were both profitable, why allow a merger?

Re:Profitability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22857134)

Neither was profitable. That's a significant reason for the merger.

Re:Profitability (1)

plague3106 (71849) | about 6 years ago | (#22857566)

They're both struggling, Sirrus more, because it has WAY more debt. I think that's why it wants to "buy" XM... for the assets, so the debt doesn't look as bad. 500M for Stern, plus they have to pay to broadcast NFL (who listens to football on the radio anyway?) & NBA.

Re:Profitability (1)

dino2gnt (1072530) | about 6 years ago | (#22858224)

>If they were both profitable, why allow a merger? because neither is profitable, nor have they ever been. Both of these companies bleed cash like a menstruating hemophiliac.

Too many choices already (1)

PaulG.1 (1198147) | about 6 years ago | (#22857000)

I used to love my XM. I still do, but I got this cool little gizmo called an "Ipod Shuttle" for Christmas and find I don't listen to XM as much as I used to. Hmmmm ....

Maybe Sirius' audio offerings wont suck now... (3, Interesting)

PortHaven (242123) | about 6 years ago | (#22857034)

We had Sirius service for a year. My wife tends toward country, and she hated every station they had. Now, I am not into country but even I could tell that all of the country stations on Sirius were for older crowds and did not compare to what I hear on the various radio stations.

Meanwhile, I used to listen mainly to their christian rock station. They then drop it and about a dozen other stations. They encouraged me to listen to Spirit. That'd be like dropping the headbanger's station and telling a metalhead to listen to the Elvis All Day station. Okay, so both may technically fall under rock. But they're worlds apart. Siriusly, you might as well just try towing a 20ft trailer with a Prius.

Stupid, they totally don't get their own markets.

***

Maybe this merger will improve the quality of their programming.

Re:Maybe Sirius' audio offerings wont suck now... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22857222)

My wife tends toward country... I used to listen mainly to their christian rock station
Maybe you should just stop listening to shitty music?

Re:Maybe Sirius' audio offerings wont suck now... (1)

bangwhistle (971272) | about 6 years ago | (#22858102)

Sirius has how many different rock & pop stations (a special one just for "Hair" bands? An "Elvis" channel?) but over a year ago dropped one of the two "swing and standards" channels, and recently bastardized the only remaining one. So my hope is programming will expand. If not, well I'll have to learn to put up with commercials on broadcast radio again (or listen to NPR.... )

Justification for government (0)

Jozef Nagy (1082101) | about 6 years ago | (#22857126)

Am I missing something? Exactly what business is it of the government's that these 2 companies are merging?

So let me get this story straight: 2 companies create a market where one previously did not exist. They are giving consumers yet another audio listening option. They're creating choice. Then for business reasons they decide to merge. Now explain to me where the government has any right to get involved?

Granted, it's satellite so there's a "public airwaves" argument to be made. However, with homesteading rights the government should only be concerned with who owns the frequencies and not how the owners are running their businesses. We can wax poetic all day long about whether this merger is a benefit to consumers or not. That's fine. But to involve the force of the Federal government in a business transaction seems unjustified to me.

Separate the delivery and the programming (0)

Se7enLC (714730) | about 6 years ago | (#22857150)

That's what needs to happen. People were afraid to go with XM or Sirius because they are incompatible technologies (BluRay, HD anyone? VHS/Betamax?). We don't want to have a bunch of incompatible technologies because it will hurt technology development. We don't want to have just one company because it will be a monopoly.

My suggestion: Force all the satellite radio companies to use the same technology. They can either buy time on a satellite or launch their own, but they have to all agree on one format. They can charge whatever they want, and the competition between networks can keep prices down. The fact that they are all compatible means that you can switch from one to the other if you want to. Hardware manufacturers can just make ONE satellite radio that will work with all of the different providers. So now cars that want to have built-in satellite aren't tied to one company.

Thank you, Justice Department! (2, Funny)

jpellino (202698) | about 6 years ago | (#22857170)

You're dreamy. Now there's 50% less competition for those of us who always aspired to starting up a satellite radio service.

yuo Fa1l It (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22857178)

obviouS that there fear the reaper 3here it belongs, own agenda - give

This is a good thing for consumers (3, Interesting)

Gizzmonic (412910) | about 6 years ago | (#22857212)

Anything that staves off radio domination by Clear Channel is a good thing.

XM and Sirius are premium services and thus will probably could not have survived on their own.

XM radio helped keep people in New Orleans informed long after all the terrestrial radio stations were shut down. Yet Clear Channel tried to get legislation passed [house.gov] to prevent satellite radio from providing local weather and news information.

That's like letting all the oil companies merge... (0, Redundant)

dpbsmith (263124) | about 6 years ago | (#22857268)

"the options beyond satellite radio--digital recordings, high-definition radio, Web radio--mean that XM and Sirius could merge without diminishing competition"

Yeah, they've been using that rationale a lot lately.

It's like saying it's OK to like saying that the options beyond gasoline--coal, natural gas, bicycles--mean that all the oil companies could merge without diminishing competition.

Digital recordings: you mean like buying and playing Howard Stern CDs instead of listening to what he's saying today? Not that what he's saying today is exactly profound, but timeliness is an essential component of "radio" as we know it. Web radio: it's probably possible to get it in your car, but I don't know exactly how and it's probably not cheap.

Merger is not complete. (4, Informative)

mknewman (557587) | about 6 years ago | (#22857384)

From XM's web site: "The pending merger is still subject to approval of the Federal Communications Commission."

explain it to me? (1)

supernova87a (532540) | about 6 years ago | (#22857398)

Perhaps someone with expertise in antitrust could enlighten me as to a silly question:

About five years ago, satellite radio was unheard of, or nearly so. For a time, there was only one company offering service. No one at that time would complain of this being anti-competitive or a monopoly, that there was only one choice in the market.

But now, after two companies decide to merge, suddenly threatens to become anticompetitive and needs government approval. Why is the first case ok, but the second case not?

Why I think this is a good idea (5, Informative)

denverradiosucks (653647) | about 6 years ago | (#22857408)

I know not everyone will agree with me on this, and they are entitled to stick it to me after they read this post. That being said, I have been an XM subscriber for a year now and am excited about this.

Radio needs Satellite radio! For the last decade, I have been striving to find quality programming on radio that wasn't lacking the polished professionalism of most college radio stations and at the same time wasn't the over-researched, payola driven, target market homogenization of your typical Clear Channel station. That was found in Satellite radio for me.

The key differences with satellite radio and AM/FM these days is this. AM/FM is losing listeners every day. Advertising is down 15% in the last few years and listeners are turning off the AM/FM radio for other mediums. Instead of taking a chance with formats like in years past, stations owned by large corporations and disappointed shareholders instead become more conservative and try to be less distinguishable than before to attract the largest number of listeners. What happens is a large number of stations in a given market end up with eerily familiar formats, with little to no variance in station programming.

Satellite radio has taken a different approach. With such a comparatively smaller audience nationwide when compared to there traditional counterparts, Satellite radio will do anything to attract listeners, and that has been through offering dozens of niche stations with specific programming. It's fantastic sitting in my car and listening to Deep House music in one station, NCAA March Madness another, and obscure underground classic from another. It's what FM used to be 13-40 years ago in my opinion.

In short, FM is playing conservative to keep what listeners they have and are losing daily, while Satellite is taking chances to draw whatever listeners they can get.

Why is this merger good? Both stations are fiscally hurting, and a quality medium like Satellite radio needs to be strengthened against not only AM/FM/HD radio, but iPods/Podcasting, and streaming radio online.

As long as XM's services survive... (1)

es330td (964170) | about 6 years ago | (#22857550)

XM offers a service to pilots called XM Weather - Aviation that is invaluable to private pilots. Even though it takes a pretty high end GPS receiver to get the data (>$2k), the value of seeing winds aloft, freezing temperatures and storms can sometimes means the difference between literal life and death and there is no real time alternative.

I really don't think that at this time satellite radio offers any real competition to AM/FM radio because most people don't want to pay for radio when a decent alternative is available for free. For some, such as OTR truckers or long distance commuters, having continuity of radio programming is pretty nice.

If satellite radio was a service the general population couldn't do without I'd be very concerned about a monopoly situation but it isn't. From my POV, anything that keeps the XM weather active is okay by me.

Re:As long as XM's services survive... (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 6 years ago | (#22858038)

Add to that - the unique channels you couldn't get "on the other guy". I have XM precisely because Sirius doesn't offer an equivalent channel for the stuff I like to listen to (Movie scores - XM27 Cinemagic). I'm told it'll survive... but who knows.

And yes, XM WX is quite important as well - not just in the air, but also around as well (XM offers WX service in general now - not terribly useful to those who can catch the local broadcast, but may be important in the boonies).

XM doesn't actually provide the data - they just provide the transport mechanism - they carry the WX data for a third party (I think there used to be a generic "XM Data" service for one-way data transfers?). Funny how Sirius doesn't have a data service...

Price increase unlikely (1)

davmoo (63521) | about 6 years ago | (#22857656)

Even if XM and Sirius combine, there is little incentive for the resulting company to raise prices. Neither company has ever made one thin dime in profit, and the companies, either combined or individually, are still quite some distance from doing so. Even with a merger, the company will still be in no position to risk pissing off a sizable portion of its customer base.

compatibility? (3, Interesting)

greenrom (576281) | about 6 years ago | (#22857690)

Anybody know if the two systems can be made compatible without swapping receivers? I have XM built in to my car. I'd hate to have it stop working after the merger.
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