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XM/Sirius Merger

By admin Published: February 21, 2007

Check, please, after the jump ...

The big question in my house about the combining of the two satellite-radio companies is: when will our rates go up?

A price hike is pretty much inevitable. Both companies have lost boatloads of money while fighting a price war and paying for high-priced talent (Howard Stern, Oprah Winfrey) as well as exclusive sports deals. Once they're no longer trying to cut the other's throat, they'll be in a position to cut consumers' instead. In addition to a regular rate hike, I can imagine an increasing number of premium packages adding still more to the monthly bill.

Which will be unfortunate. We're a house of XM, although that choice mainly had to do with the bride's having a car with XM built in and our then adding other units to that package. I might just as easily have wound up with Sirius.
But regardless of which service we chose, I like the pure idea of satellite radio -- all those choices, all the time.

Some time back, I had to take a long, solo, overnight car trip; my company was one of XM's comedy channels, the voices and the laughter carrying me along when regular radio would have provided nothing comparable -- and was barely available at all during some long, rural stretches on the drive. During the erratic broadcast scheduling of Al Franken's now-departed show on local radio, I could find the whole thing on XM.

The biggest drawback is that it encourages my restless channel-hopping while I'm driving, from the hits channels to Soul Street to Deep Tracks to the '90s, back to the hit channels, maybe a stop at Willie's Place, a few minutes with the Groove, checking in Frank's Place, and on again. And that's not even counting the sports.

Not that I listen to XM all the time. I do venture into the radio world occasionally, notably for Stephanie Miller's show. And for the last few days I have been concentrating on Lucinda Williams's new "West" CD. (Buy it. Buy it now.) But I do prize satellite radio. And I fear that once this merger goes through, the new combine will ask my wallet how much I prize it.

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