Sirius Gets Serious

Sirius Satellite Radio has achieved three milestones in its campaign to reach profitability.

On December 8, the New York–based broadcaster announced that it now has more than 200,000 subscribers to its nationwide service. The company also announced that this holiday shopping season is the first during which consumers will have wide access to Sirius receivers from Kenwood and Audiovox. Among new products is a home audio unit from Kenwood, and, from Audiovox, a trucker's receiver and a boombox, said to be available in limited quantities.

"This is the first time that we are going into a busy holiday selling season with a full complement of products at retail, and we believe that this will help to drive subscriptions this year, as well as position us favorably as we transition into 2004," said CEO Joseph Clayton.

So might a deal announced December 10 with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Radio-Canada. Sirius and its new partner are forming a joint venture that will bring Sirius Radio to listeners north of the US border, and the two firms will soon file an application with the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for a license to provide satellite radio in Canada.

To win approval, Sirius services for Canadians must feature a significant amount of content by Canadians. That is the partners' plan, according to chief executives from both companies. "By expanding the choices available to Canadians, this new service will enable the national public broadcaster to better fulfill its mandate by extending its reach and enhancing its services to Canadians," said Robert Rabinovitch, CBC/Radio-Canada's president and CEO. CBC/Radio-Canada was able to secure the distribution of two of its most popular channels, Radio One and La Premiere Chaine, for the Sirius venture. Other broadcasters and investors may participate in the venture.

Sirius is "an ideal match for Canada's public broadcaster and its unparalleled Canadian programming content," Clayton asserted. He described his company's agreement with CBC/Radio-Canada as "an exceptional example of a time-honored brand joining with Sirius to bring an innovative national service to Canadians."

The deal will also give Canadian artists wider exposure throughout North America, according to the announcement. Sirius currently delivers 100 channels of entertainment and news, 60 of them commercial-free music streams in a wide variety of genres, for a monthly fee of $12.95.