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Analyst Weighs Impact of Sirius, XM Satellite Radio Merger

As the Federal Communications Commission and anti-trust regulators scrutinize a proposed merger between XM and Sirius satellite radio, Gwen Ifill talks to a media analyst about the timing of the deal and its implications for satellite radio listeners.

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    They were rivals, pioneers of a new technology that promised to give consumers an entirely new way to listen to the radio. But now Sirius and XM, the nation's two satellite radio providers, want to get out of the ring and combine forces instead.

    The proposed $13 billion deal would combine their separate slates of music, sports and entertainment channels. Subscribers now pay $12.95 a month to get a diet of shock jocks, talk show hosts, and targeted music programming, much of the time built into new cars.

    XM and Sirius have a combined subscriber base of 13 million, but together have lost about $6 billion as subscriber growth has slowed. But each has spent eye-popping amounts of money to hire stars like Howard Stern and Oprah Winfrey.


    And let me tell you what's been happening since the last show.


    Stern brought his raunchy variety show to Sirius two years ago, enticed by a cash-, stock- and incentive-laden package worth nearly $800 million. Sirius also paid the National Football League $230 million over seven years for radio rights to its games.

    Similarly, XM has agreed to pay Winfrey $55 million over three years for her services and shelled out $650 million over 11 years to carry Major League Baseball.

    The merger must first win approval from both the Justice Department antitrust regulators and the Federal Communications Commission. Meanwhile, some consumer groups and broadcasters have already said they will oppose the deal.

    It should be noted that the NewsHour is also carried on XM Radio.

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