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THE GIZMO: What's new in TV, DVR and satellite radio
By JONATHAN TAKIFF
Last updated: July 31st, 2007 01:53 PM (PDT)
THE GIZMO: News on satellite radio, TV and DVR fronts.
BOSOM BUDDIES: So you want to be able to hear both the Oprah Winfrey channel and Howard Stern on the same car or portable radio? How about all NFL and MLB game action?
Sirius chief executive Mel Karmazin promises new program packages allowing a subscriber to receive prime content from both XM and Sirius satellite radio services. But this will only be reality if the proposed $11 billion merger of the pay-radio rivals is allowed by the federal government, and only if consumers invest in a next-generation receiver capable of tuning both sets of space-fed signals.
To ease the Federal Communications Commission's collective mind that the deal benefits the consumer, several a la carte packages were spelled out this week in Sirius and XM's final joint filing with the commission.
Radically undercutting each service's current (and planned to continue) $12.99-a-month package is a new, $6.99-a-month bundle that would allow a consumer to choose 50 channels from either the XM or the Sirius lineup, then add extra channels for 25 cents each.
A $14.99, 100-channel a la carte option would give users access to all the offerings from one service and "select" channels from the other, or they could choose a $16.99, 100-channel option to mix and match.
Other ways to go would include $9.95 "mostly music" and "mostly news, sports and information" packages, and an $11.99 family-friendly channel bundle. There also would be a new option to block adult-content channels and get credit for them.
Karmazin told the National Press Club that a new hybrid radio (needed for the a la carte packages) would be comparable in cost to current satellite radios. I'm assuming he's talking about pricier models in the $150 to $300 range.
The price would doubtless be higher if National Public Radio makes a successful case with the FCC that future satellite radios delivered from a merged operation should also be able to tune in free, terrestrial digital HD Radio channels.