XM Satellite Radio
) is one of
two satellite radio
) services in the United States and Canada,
operated by Sirius XM Radio
provides pay-for-service radio, analogous to cable television
. Its service includes 73
different music channels, 39 news, sports, talk and entertainment
channels, 21 regional traffic and weather channels and 23
play-by-play sports channels. XM channels are identified by
with the label "XM" (e.g.
The company has its origins in the 1988 formation of the
American Mobile Satellite Corporation
of several organizations
originally dedicted to satellite broadcasting of telephone, fax,
and data signals. In 1992, AMSC established a unit called the
American Mobile Radio Corporation
developing a satellite-based digital radio service; this was spun
off as XM Satellite Radio Holdings, Inc. in 1999. The satellite
service was officially launched on September 25, 2001. On July 29,
2009, XM and former competitor Sirius Satellite Radio
completed their merger, following FCC
forming Sirius XM Radio, Inc. On November 12, 2008, Sirius and XM
began broadcasting with their new, combined channel lineups. XM was
also the largest satellite radio company in the United States
before merging with Sirius.
While the satellite receiver radio service is its primary product,
XM operates several audio and data services, and advertising.
XM's primary business is satellite radio entertainment. XM carries
music, news (both simulcast and syndicated programming), sports,
talk radio, comedy (both stand-up and radio shows), and even radio
drama. In addition, XM broadcasts local weather and traffic
conditions in its larger markets. The channel lineup
is available on-line.
To receive satellite radio programming, a customer is required to
purchase a receiver. Prices range from less than $50 to over $200.
With a service commitment, it's possible to get a simple receiver
for free. Monthly packages start at US$12.95/month with add-on
"family" radios at US$8.99/month. Best-of-Sirius is available on US
accounts for an additional monthly fee. Lifetime packages are also
available (USA only).
XM Satellite Radio logo from
There are currently several types of receivers available to
- Plug and Play receivers: The receiver snaps in to a base unit,
which provides power, antenna, and audio connections. Multiple base
units can be installed in the home or car, and portable boom-box
style units allow the plug and play receivers to be used outdoors.
This is typically the least expensive option. Examples include the
Xpress line, and the Delphi Skyfi.
- In-dash receivers: These are integrated with a car's stereo
system. Many factory stereo systems include XM or Sirius radio, and
the more popular aftermarket stereo brands all have options to
connect satellite radio receivers.
- Desktop receivers and Home theater systems: Manufacturers are
now offering several XM Ready systems. These use an external tuner
which can connect to the head unit. These range from small
clock-radio systems to powerful home theater receivers.
- Portable personal systems: XM has offered portability kits for
various receivers in the past. It also currently offers the Helix
and Inno, which are self-contained and can play both live XM and
recorded content with no external antennas.
XM also offers music downloads through XM+Napster for Windows
users. This service is being integrated with XM Online and the new
MP3 capable XM receivers, such as the Pioneer Inno or the Samsung
Several music channels of XM radio can also be received on the
satellite networks. To listen to XM on DirecTV or Dish
Network, no XM subscription is required, but you must have a Dish
Network or DirecTV subscription.
XM also offers many of its stations to subscribers via the
Internet. Most of its original programming is available, but the
syndicated and simulcast channels are typically not included.
XM Radio Online
XM Radio Online (XMRO), XM's Internet radio product, offers many of
XM's music stations and can be accessed from any Internet connected
Windows or Macintosh computer, or via the iPhone/iPod Touch SIRIUS
XM app. It used to be included with XM Radio subscriptions before
March 11, 2009, or was available separately for US$7.99 a month to
Internet-only subscribers. It is now available as an add-on ($2.99)
or alone ($12.99).
XM Radio upgraded its online audio stream to near CD-Quality sound
on March 11, 2009. All customers with existing subscriptions,
including lifetime subscriptions, were downgraded from the 64
kbit/s stream to a lower quality 32 kbit/s stream for the duration
of their subscription contract. Following their subscription
length, XMRO is available as a $2.99 add-on service. The stream is
fed to XMRO subscribers as a "near CD-quality" 128 kbit/s
Weather and traffic
XM also provides data services such as weather information for
pilots and weather spotters through its XM WX Satellite Weather datacasting
service. This up to the minute
weather information can be displayed in the cockpit of an aircraft
equipped with a satellite weather receiver. Unlike weather radar,
which relies on the aircraft's own equipment, the satellite service
can give a pilot information about weather anywhere in the country.
The downside is that the various weather streams (radar, cloud
coverage, lightning, etc...) are transmitted every 5–15 minutes,
meaning that the information is somewhat out-of-date by the time it
is received. In-cockpit radar and lightning receivers return truly
realtime information, but they can cost many thousands of dollars.
Certain aircraft are also now integrating the XM radio service in
to the aircraft's audio system, as well, allowing the pilot to
listen to XM radio while flying.
XM also has dedicated traffic and weather channels that cover many
major metropolitan areas. These channels play a continuous loop of
local weather information and detailed traffic data.
Commercial adoption and partnerships
In 2005, AirTran Airways
putting XM Satellite Radio on their aircraft, while in January
2006, JetBlue Airways
added XM Radio
to their aircraft. United Airlines
started carrying prerecorded XM content in March 2006. Zipcar
, an urban car-sharing service in the United
States, initially installed XM receivers in all of their vehicles
available for daily or hourly rental. However, citing uncertainty
in the satellite radio market, Zipcar announced on May 1, 2007 that
all XM radios would be removed from its fleet in the following
In 2006, the service "XM for Business" was launched on the DirecTV
platform to provide 15 channels of
interruption-free background music. This service replaces the
business audio service
formerly offered by DirecTV. The XM for Business channels are in
the upper 500s as of August 2006 and include an exclusive "Taste of
Italy" channel. The channels are programmed separately from the
consumer service, but share the same names, themes, and playlists.
More importantly for the background music needs of business audio
these channels do not feature any kind of interruption and do not
feature radio hosts, imaging, or sounder
Effective October 1, 2006, the 15 channels of interruption-free
background music, formerly part of "XM for Business", were moved
from satellite 101 to satellite 119 (DirecTV-7S at 119°W).
Reception now requires a single 18" dish aimed at 119°W or a Phase3
oval dish with three LNBFs and a multi-satellite-capable receiver.
Older, single LNB receivers may not be able to receive these
In 2007, Air Canada
began replacing its
current generation of EnRoute radio with XM. As with United, this
is prerecorded content.
- American Mobile Satellite Corp. is founded.
- American Mobile Radio/ XM founder Lon Levin joins American
Mobile Satellite Corp.
- December 15: after CD Radio (later becoming
Sirius Satellite Radio)
successfully petitioned the Federal Communications
Commission and Congress
to look into creating Digital Audio Radio Service
(DARS) in the United States, American Mobile Satellite Corp. spins
off a new division known as American Mobile Radio Corp. who would
go on and join three other applicants as potential licensees. Later
that year, American Mobile brings in WorldSpace as a 20% investor into the new venture
with the intention of using their technology.
- May 16: American Mobile Satellite and
WorldSpace officially change the name of American Mobile Radio to
XM Satellite Radio. Later that month, Lon Levin, who was
politically instrumental in the early years of establishing
American Mobile Radio, becomes its President until 1998; he would
remain on until 2005 in an influential VP role in charge of
- October: XM Satellite Radio obtains one of
only two satellite digital audio radio service licenses offered by
Communications Commission. Together with CD Radio (SIRIUS), the
two successfully beat out Primosphere Limited
Partnership and Digital Satellite
Broadcasting Corporation as licensees.
- June: Clear Channel Communications,
DirecTV, General Motors, and a private
investment group invest US$250 million in XM Satellite Radio
convertible debt. Both Clear
Channel and DirecTV agree to develop services for XM.
- June 7: with GM's investment in XM, they enter
into a 12-year "Distribution Agreement" between XM and GM
subsdiary, OnStar Corporation. The agreement
calls for exclusive installation of XM Satellite Radio into GM
vehicles from November 12, 2001 until November 2013. OnStar must
meet specific escalating installation rates each year, while XM
must make extensive payments to OnStar for the installation and
sale of XM in their vehicles, while sharing revenue earned from
these radios with OnStar – as well as payments on the exclusivity
- July 7, American Mobile Satellite, still XM's
parent company, uses approximately US$75 million of the proceeds
from the private investment to reacquire the 20% interest
WorldSpace holds. In October, XM Satellite Radio issues 10,241,000
shares of Class A common stock at an IPO price of US$12.00 per share.
American Mobile Satellite remains the majority holder of the public
- April: American Mobile Satellite Corp. changes
its name to Motient. In July, American Honda
join several private investors in a US$235 million preferred stock investment in the
- September 25: XM Satellite
Radio service launches, first in San Diego and Dallas/Fort Worth, and spreads
across the United States. The initial lineup includes 71
music channels and 29 other channels consisting of sports, talk,
children's programming, entertainment and news. The original launch
date of September 12 is pushed back after the World Trade Center and Pentagon
- October: with Motient heading into bankruptcy,
they spin off their non-XM satellite division into a joint
operation with TMI Communications and Company, L.P., a wholly owned
subsidiary of BCE Inc. of Canada; the new venture is known as the
Mobile Satellite Ventures.
- November: with Motient in bankruptcy, they
sell off their controlling interest in XM to Hughes Electronics, Singapore Telecommunications
and Baron Capital Partners. This ends Motient's interest in XM and
begins XM's history as a stand-alone company. Hughes Electronics
would go on to combine this new interest in with the interest
already held by their subsidiary, DirecTV.
- November 12: XM Satellite Radio marks the
official launch of full nationwide service.
- December 31: XM Satellite Radio ends the year
with 27,733 subscribers.
- September 3: XM Satellite Radio adds Playboy
Radio, an adult entertainment premium channel, available for an
additional $2.99 per month.
- December 31: XM Satellite Radio ends the year
with 347,159 subscribers.
- January: with the launch and rollout taking
longer and more costly than expected, the company undergoes a large
and complicated re-capitalization plan. The plan involves XM
exchanging US$300 million in old debt for new debt, while deferring
interest for 3-years on the notes; as well as restructuring the
payment obligations on the General Motors installation
agreement, issuing a convertible bond to GM, issuing a warrant for shares to GM, and establishing
a revolving credit facility with GM; and finally the plan included
new funding coming from a placement of over US$300 million in 10%
convertible bonds to a group of
- June: Veteran award-winning radio producer
Joe Bevilacqua's radio theater
extravaganza, The Comedy-O-Rama Hour, premieres on XM163 Sonic
Theater Channel. Celebrity guests include Al
Franken, Lewis Black, Shelley Berman, Bob
Edwards, Nancy Cartwright and
- July: the company has nearly 700,000
- December 31: XM Satellite Radio ends the year
with 1,360,228 subscribers.
- January through March: With the sale of Hughes
Electronics from General
Motors to Rupert Murdoch's
News Corp., DirecTV's interest in XM
Satellite Radio is sold off on the market.
- February 2: XM Radio announces 100% commercial
free music lineup.
- March 1: XM Radio launched Instant Traffic and
Weather Channels for major metropolitan markets in the United
- August 11: XM Radio subscriber base breaks the
2.5 million mark. The company partners with automakers General Motors, Honda, Isuzu, Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen, and SAAB) to offer in-dash XM receivers on an
OEM basis. The Acura
TL is the first luxury automobile to offer XM radio as "standard"
in every vehicle.
- October 4: "Shock" jocks Opie and Anthony begin broadcasting on a
premium ($1.99/month extra) XM Satellite Radio station. Also,
former National Public Radio
host Bob Edwards broadcasts the first
Bob Edwards Show on XM
Public Radio, channel 133.
- October 20: XM announces an 11-year, US$650
million deal with Major League
Baseball to broadcast games live nationwide and become the
Official Satellite Radio provider of Major League Baseball. The
agreement grants XM the rights to use the MLB silhouetted batter
logo and the collective marks of all major league clubs. As part of
the deal, XM creates a 24/7 MLB channel called "Home Plate". The deal starts with the 2005
season and runs through the 2012, with a 3-year option that MLB can
- October 26: XM presents its first XM2go portable XM receiver: The Delphi MyFi.
- December 31: XM Satellite Radio ends the year
with 3,229,124 subscribers.
- January 5: XM introduces two new XM2go models:
Pioneer's AirWare and the Tao from Giant International.
- February 28: XM's third satellite, Rhythm, is
- March 3: XM becomes the
exclusive satellite partner of the Indy Racing League and Indianapolis
500 (IMS Radio
- April 1: XM announces that it has added
540,000 subscribers in Q1 2005, pushing their total subscriber base
to 3.77 million.
- April 11: XM announces that a deal has been
reached to be the official satellite radio network of Air America Radio.
- May 16: XM announces that subscribership has
topped 4 million. This indicates exponential growth for the
company. In five weeks time, they added 230,000 subscribers —
almost 50% of the subscribers added during the previous
- May 28: the Wall Street Journal reports that XM has
awarded the contract for the XM 5 spacecraft to Space Systems/Loral.
- June 7: XM partners with Audible.com to offer downloadable audio show
archives of The Opie and Anthony Show, as well as The
Bob Edwards Show.
- July 1: XM announces it has added more than
640,000 subscribers in Q2 2005, pushing their total subscriber base
over 4.4 million.
- August 1: XM announces the addition of popular
radio hosts Ron and Fez.
- August 1: XM announces a
three-year partnership with the United States Tennis
Association to broadcast the US Open tournament
through 2007, as well as weekly reports from other US Open Series events.
- September 12: Ron and Fez join Opie and Anthony on High Voltage XM 202.
- September 13: XM announces a 10-year US$100
million deal to carry National
Hockey League broadcasts beginning with the 2005-06 season,
initially sharing the coverage with SIRIUS but gaining
satellite-radio exclusivity from 2007 onward.
- September 27: XM announces it has surpassed 5
- October 3: XM announces that they have added
more than 617,000 new net subscribers during Q3 2005.
- October 3: XM Satellite Radio launches channel
"Take 5" (XM 155). The channel is geared toward Women's Programming
and features replays of The Ellen
DeGeneres Show, The Tyra
Banks Show, syndicated and original programming, as well
as programming from the Food Network
and HGTV. Additionally, XM Radio drops two of
its Talk and Entertainment channels: MTV and VH1. XM adds 617,000
subscribers in Q3 2005, pushing the total subscriber base to over
- October 18: XM announces it will begin
carrying Fox News Talk in
- November 15: DirecTV
begins broadcasting 72 channels as part of their audio programming.
This includes music channels, "Home Plate" (XM 175), and "High Voltage" (XM 202) but no news or
- November 17: , XM launches their new Fall
lineup of channels: "unSigned", "Air Musique", "Sur La Route",
"Laugh Attack", "Canada 360", "Quoi de Neuf", "Franc Parler", and
- November 29: XM launches service in
- December 29: XM and VoiceBox Technologies join forces to
provide conversational voice-driven XM experience to auto
- December 31: XM Satellite Radio ends the year
with 5,932,957 subscribers.
- January 2: XM begins broadcasting Fox News
Talk as the channel launches. The channel includes
O'Reilly, Tony Snow, John Gibson, and Alan Colmes.
- January 4: XM announces it has surpassed 6
- January 9: XM wins top honors at the 2006
Consumer Electronics Show
in Las Vegas for their two new portable units that offer live
programming on-the-go. The new radios are the XM Pioneer Inno and Samsung Helix. They expect to be released
during the end of March or beginning of April.
- February 9: XM announces they have signed a
US$55 million three-year deal with Oprah
Winfrey's Harpo Productions. A
new channel called "Oprah and Friends" will launch in September,
which will be programmed by Winfrey and originate in the Harpo
Studios in Chicago. The channel will feature programs hosted by a
team of personalities who appear on her television show including
Gayle King, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Marianne
Williamson, Dr. Robin Smith, Bob Greene and Nate Berkus. As part of the agreement, Oprah
will appear in a weekly 30-minute program along with friend Gayle
King. The program will air 39-weeks a year and feature taped phone
conversations between Winfrey and King.
- March 1: XM launches channels "49 Big Tracks",
"84 XM Chill", and "173 WLW" giving them 69 commercial free music
channels, with the addition of WLW, a news talk channel.
- March 10: XM announces that the music stations
programmed by Clear Channel ("21 Kiss
XM", "22 Mix XM", "11 XM Nashville", and "24 XM Sunny") will begin
airing some commercials beginning in April. This was a decision
made by Clear Channel. In response, XM promises to add its own
commercial-free versions of these channels in the near future.
- April 17: XM Launches 8 new Commercial Free
Music Channels. The channels are, "XM 17 - U.S. Country"
(commercial-free alternative to "Nashville"), "XM 26 - Flight 26"
(commercial-free alternative to "MIX"), "XM 30 - XM Hitlist"
(commercial-free alternative to "KISS"), "XM 34 - enLighten", "XM
42 - XM Liquid Metal" (brought back to the satellites after being
an online-exclusive for over a year), "XM 68 - The Heat"(Formally
"The Eye"), "XM 78 - Escape" (commercial-free alternative to
"Sunny") and "XM 91 - Viva." On the same date, DirecTV changed its channel lineup to focus in on
XM's commercial-free music too, which resulted in the removal of
two XM talk channels, the addition of 4 new music channels
and the replacement of the four Clear Channel programmed music
channels that began airing commercials. Removed from
DirecTV were XM's MLB channel "Home Plate" (DTV Channel 878) and
"High Voltage" (DTV Channel 879). Added were "The Heat" (Formally
"The Eye") (DTV Channel 825), "enLighten" (DTV Channel 828), "The
Torch" (DTV Channel 829), "Liquid Metal" (DTV Channel 841) and
"Viva" (DTV Channel 876). Replaced were "Nashville" (DTV Channel
809), "Kiss" (DTV Channel 817), "Mix" (DTV Channel 818), and
"Sunny" (DTV Channel 820); DirecTV replaced those channels with the
aforementioned new commercial-free versions programmed directly by
XM, "U.S. Country," "XM Hitlist," "Flight 26," and "Escape",
respectively. Also, XM Changed Names For Some Of Its Stations, XM
68 "the Eye" Became "The Heat", XM 32 "The Fish" Became "The
Message" And XM 90 "Allegra" Became "Fuego".
- April 22: Thanks to the fans of the Opie and
Anthony show (The O&A Pests) DirectTV adds XM 202 "High
Voltage" (Dtv Channel 879) back to the channel lineup
- April 24: XM Satellite Radio officially
announces the long rumored deal that Opie and Anthony would be
syndicated back to terrestrial radio through CBS Radio. Joel Hollander, current showrunner at
CBS Radio, was there for the announcement as was XM programming VP
- April 26: Opie and Anthony's
reformatted show debuts on 7 CBS Radio affiliates: New York City's
WFNY-FM, Cleveland's WXRK (tape delayed, 3-6 PM), Boston's WBCN, West Palm Beach's WPBZ,
Philadelphia's WYSP, Dallas' KLLI (now KRLD-FM), and
Pittsburgh's WRKZ. Their show has been
segmented so that 6 AM - 9 AM is broadcast on both XM and CBS, and
9 AM - 11 AM is XM exclusive.
- July 24: Nate Davis was made the president and
chief operating officer.
- August 15: XM begins playing chronologically
every song to ever make the pop charts. This is expected to last
well over a month. This playback is called "IT" The music is played on each decade channel. The
music from the 1940s is played on the 40's on 4, then starting with
music from January 1950 the music is played on the 50's on 5, and
- Around August 26: XM Flight 26 is pulled from
AOL Radio on the Mac platform. No explanation as to why this
occurred, yet AOL Radio's homepage lists it in the Top 11 (despite
the stream not appearing in the AOL program, which lists ten
streams under "Top 11" instead of eleven).
- September 3: MSNBC - XM 130 is dropped from
the XM news channel lineup. No explanation is given by XM, who made
the decision to discontinue the news channel's feed.
- September 6: XM announces a Pink version
of the Pioneer Inno, available exclusively at Circuit City (at
first). US$30 from each unit sold goes to support the Susan G.
Komen Breast Cancer Foundation's fight against breast cancer.
- September 25: "Oprah and Friends" radio
officially launched on XM channel 156.
- October 30: The XM-4 "Blues"
satellite was launched atop a Zenit 3SL
- December 18: XM announces they began
broadcasting through XM-4 "Blues" on Friday, bringing the
active satellites to XM-3 "Rhythm" and XM-4
"Blues" with original satellites XM-1 "Rock" and
XM-2 "Roll" as in-orbit spares for the near-term.
- January 18: The Federal Communications
Commission rules that licensing regulations would prohibit a
possible merger of XM and rival Sirius Satellite Radio. Recent
remarks by top officials within both companies have hinted at a
possible move to join forces to stave off billion-dollar losses
associated with increased competition between the two
- February 13: XM sells the transponders on XM-4
to Wells Fargo Bank in a leaseback agreement. This amounts to
taking out a mortgage on the transponders; while the bank will own
them, XM actually uses them and has the right to buy them back at
any time. At the end of the lease period, XM will also have the
option to buy them back.
- February 19: XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc.
and Sirius Satellite Radio
announce they will merge, creating
a satellite radio giant. See XM/Sirius merger.
- April 26: XM announces 1Q07 results, as well
as surpassing eight million subscribers. The company also claims
that they have an additional US$319 million in positive cashflow,
giving them total available liquidity of US$719 million.
- May 15: XM suspends talk show hosts Opie &
Anthony for 30 days over comments made on their program by a
homeless man called "Homeless Charlie" on the previous day.
- May 21-May 22: XM experiences an outage that
deprives many subscribers of service for almost twenty-four hours.
The outage affected the satellite XM-3 ("Rhythm", or "SAT1" on
receivers) along with terrestrial repeaters. XM blames the
situation on a "software glitch".
- July 24: XM announces that CEO Hugh Panero
will leave the company in August, with current President and COO
Nate Davis stepping in to serve as President and interim CEO.
- August 1: XM launches XM-X, featuring
rebroadcasts of many XM-exclusive shows, on XM 2. The first day's
programming consists of episodes of Bob
Dylan's Theme Time Radio
- August 5: XM upgrades its Neural Audio
processing mechanism to improve sound quality across its music
- November 8: XM launches XM59 - XM LED - The Led Zeppelin
- March 7: XM Discontinues the XM LED channel.
(According to the channel's website, it is taking a break for the
- March 24: The United States
Department of Justice declines to block the merger of XM and Sirius Satellite Radio after thirteen
months of review.
- July 25: The FCC approves the XM-Sirius
- August 16: Xm channel 51 "Mandatory Metallica"
launches. The channel will be available from August 16 through
September 30. The channel will play music from the entire Metallica
catalog, including rare live recordings from the band's personal
concert archives, extensive interviews with the band and more.
- October 13 & 14: Layoffs of XM on-air
personnel are leaked on the internet. The initial names released
include DJ's from all DJ'd decades channels, along with Deep
Tracks, XMU, Ethel and Lucy.
- October 20: News that National Basketball
Association broadcasts have been switched from Sirius to XM
leaks on the internet. NBA broadcasts will now be heard on XM
Channels 213-220, and are also said to be available to Sirius
subscribers through the 'Best of XM' package, for Sirius receivers
capable of receiving XM programming.
- October 27: According to the MySpace blog of
"Beyond Jazz" host Michelle Sammartino, "Beyond Jazz", the modern
jazz channel, will leave the air on November 14. "Beyond Jazz"
personality Michelle Sammartino, host of "Jammin Jazz" was laid off
on October 5. Russ Davis, program director of "Beyond Jazz" will be
laid off on November 14.
- November 12: XM implements new channel lineup
consisting of converged XM and Sirius programming.
- February 11: XM prepares to file Chapter 11
bankruptcy. SIRI has a $1 Billion debt obligation in 2009 and $175
Million immediate obligation due February 17, 2009.
- March 9: WXRK drops Opie
& Anthony from their programming schedule ending their run on
terrestrial radio. Opie & Anthony now heard only on satellite
XM provides digital programming directly from two high-powered
satellites in geostationary
above the equator: XM Rhythm at 115° west longitude
and XM Blues at 85° west longitude in
addition to a network of ground-based repeaters. The combination of
two satellites and a ground-based repeater network is designed to
provide gap-free coverage anywhere within the contiguous U.S., the
southern tip of Alaska, and in the southern part of Canada.
can also be received in the Caribbean Islands and most of Mexico
(reports have stated that areas north of Acapulco are able to
receive a steady signal), however XM is not yet licensed for
reception by paid subscribers living in these areas.
The original satellites, XM-1 ("Rock") and XM-2 ("Roll") suffer
from a generic design fault on the Boeing
series of satellites (fogging of the solar panels), which
means that their lifetimes will be shortened to approximately six
years instead of the design goal of 15 years. To compensate for
this flaw, XM-3 ("Rhythm") was launched ahead of its planned
schedule on February 28, 2005 and moved into XM-1's previous
location of 85° WL. XM-1 was then moved to be co-located with XM-2
at 115° WL, where each satellite operated only one transponder
(thus broadcasting half the bandwidth each) to conserve energy and
cut the power consumption in half while XM-4 ("Blues") was readied
for launch. Subsequently, XM launched ground-spare XM-4 ("Blues")
ahead of schedule on October 30, 2006 into the 115° WL location to
complete the satellite replacement program. On December 15, 2006
XM-1 was then powered down and drifted back to its original
location at 85° WL, where it will remain as a backup to XM-3. XM-2
as well was powered down and remains as a backup to XM-4. This
makes the current active satellites as XM-3 "Rhythm" and XM-4
"Blues" with two in-orbit spares.
On June 7, 2005, Space
announced that it had been awarded a contract for
XM-5. XM-5 will feature two large unfurlable antennas. Sirius'
Radiosat 5, also to be built by Loral, will have a similar single
In American and Canadian metropolitan areas, XM and its Canadian
Licensee known as Canadian
(CSR), own and operate a network of
approximately 900 terrestrial repeater
stations, meant to compensate for satellite signal blockage by
buildings, tunnels, and bridges. In the United States XM owns and
operates approximately 800 repeater sites covering 60 markets; in
Canada CSR is installing approximately 80 to 100 repeaters that
will be owned and operated by CSR in the 16 largest Canadian
cities. The actual number of repeater sites varies as the signal is
regularly tested and monitored for optimal performance. The actual
number of sites in the United States has dropped from the original
1,000 installed when the service first launched in 2001. The
repeaters transmit in the same frequency band as the satellites. A
typical city contains 20 or more terrestrial stations. Typically
the receiver owner is unaware when a terrestrial station is being
used, unless he or she checks antenna information from the receiver
being used. Due to a FCC filing in October 2006, the latest list of
XM's US terrestrial repeater network was made available to the
The XM signal uses 12.5 MHz of the S
: 2332.5 to 2345.0 MHz. XM provides 128 kilobits per
second of its bandwidth to OnStar
for use with XM-enabled GM
vehicles, regardless of
whether their owners are XM subscribers. American Honda also
retains the right to some of the company's bandwidth to transmit
messages to Acura
vehicles via a service known
XM NavTraffic, an optional service, transmits coded traffic
information directly to vehicle navigation systems using TMC
Audio channels on XM are digitally compressed using the aacPlus
codec from Coding Technologies
for most channels,
and the AMBE
from Digital Voice Systems
some voice channels, including all of the Traffic and Weather
The XM radio signal is broadcast on 6 separate radio carriers
within the 12.5 MHz allocation. The entire content of the
radio service, including both data and audio content, is
represented by only two carriers. The other 4 carriers carry
duplicates of the same content to achieve redundancy through
. The data on
each carrier is encoded using time-delayed and error-correction
schemes to enhance availability. Effectively the total radio
spectrum used for content is a little over 4 MHz.
Each two-carrier group broadcasts 100 8-kilobit-per-second streams
in approximately 4 MHz of radio spectrum. These streams are
combined using a patented process to form a variable number of
channels using a variety of bitrates. Bandwidth is separated into
segments of 4-kilobit-per-second virtual "streams" which are
combined to form audio and data "channels" of varying bitrates from
4 to 64 kilobits-per-second.
XM preprocesses audio content using Neural Audio processors that
are optimized for the AACplus
including spectral band
(SBR). Audio is stored digitally in Dalet
audio library systems using an
industry-standard MPEG-1 Layer II
384 kbit/s, sometimes known as Musicam
audio is further processed by the Neural Audio processors on the
way to broadcast.
Sirius XM Pops
a classical music
station is broadcast in
5.1 surround sound
audio quality. The
technology, titled XM HD Surround
the result of a partnership between XM and Neural Audio Corporation
provides content with six discrete channels of digital audio.
also broadcasts in this format for
certain concerts and studio performances. XM manufacturing partners
such as Denon
, and Yamaha
introduced home audio systems capable of playing XM HD
The company's May 2004 proxy statement notes that four directors
are subject to director
with GM, American Honda, the chairman,
and the CEO. Four additional directors are investors, and two are
not affiliated with any significant stockholders.
At that time, GM owned 8.6% of the Class A common stock
(a voting percentage of less than
1%) and Honda owned 13% (with a voting percentage of 3.6%).
Unless they unanimously agree otherwise, control of the company
remains with the preferred shareholder and noteholders of the
company, including Hughes Electronics, GM, Honda, and several
private investment groups.
Clear Channel programming agreement
As part of terrestrial radio giant Clear Channel Communications
early investment into XM in 1998, the companies entered into
agreements which provided for certain programming and director
designation arrangements as long as Clear Channel retained the full
amount of its original investment in XM. One positive consequence
of this was that XM had (and still has) exclusive programming
rights to all Clear Channel content, including popular national
shows like Glenn Beck
and Coast to Coast AM
. In June 2003, Clear
Channel entered into a forward sales
relating to its ownership of XM. During the third
quarter of 2005, Clear Channel and XM arbitrated the impact of this
agreement on the Operational Assistance Agreement
Director Designation Agreement
. The Arbitration
Panel decided that the Operational Assistance Agreement would
remain in effect, including Clear Channel's right to receive a
revenue share of commercial advertising on programming it provides
to XM, but declined to enforce the Director Designation Agreement.
Per the original agreement, Clear Channel had the right to program
409.6 kbit/s of XM bandwidth, requiring XM to include commercial
advertising on (XM11 Nashville!
, XM22 Mix
(now The Pink Channel
). The amount of
advertising on the music channels amounts up to 4 minutes per hour,
similar to the amount of advertising XM included before going
commercial free. Clear Channel advertising on XM is handled by its
subsidiary, Premiere Radio
. Clear Channel also provided existing talk
channel programming (XM142 Fox Sports
Radio, XM152 Extreme XM, XM165
Talk Radio), and the eventual launch
of XM173 WLW (since removed), the re-launch of XM161 WSIX-FM (now
Rock@Random), XM154 National Lampoon Comedy Radio
(since dropped), XM233 ReachMD, and XM158
also controlled XM166 America Right
but through a series of show swaps, most non-Clear Channel content
was removed and programming control returned to XM Radio. Plans to
introduce new regional based talk channels, which would have
featured a regional 5 minute newscast for each area of the country,
Seen as a blow to XM's 100% commercial-free music channel status,
XM Executive Vice President of Programming Eric Logan released a
to XM subscribers on the
company's website that reiterated XM's commitment to
commercial-free music while noting that XM still had the most
commercial-free music and that more commercial-free music channels
will be added in the near future to ensure that XM will still have
more commercial-free music than competitor Sirius Satellite Radio
. On April 17,
2006, XM launched US Country (XM17), Flight 26 (XM26), XM Hitlist
(XM30) and Escape (XM78) to provide commercial free music in the
formats of the Clear Channel programmed music channels which were
going to begin airing commercials. In response, Sirius has
advertised that they are the only satellite radio provider that has
100% commercial-free music channels. Both XM and Sirius air
commercials on their news, talk, and sports channels.
The Clear Channel forward sales agreement with Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc
was terminated on August 2, 2006. The
termination resulted in Clear Channel Investments, Inc. paying Bear
Stearns a total of $83.1 million, which was the value of Clear
Channel's stake in XM. The accreted value of the debt was $92.9
million, and the fair value of the collar was an asset of $6.0
million, which resulted in a net gain of $3.8 million for Clear
Both WSIX-FM and WLW have since been dropped from the XM
XM vs RIAA
In 2006, XM Satellite Radio was sued by the RIAA
over XM's new portable devices the Inno
and Helix. The RIAA claims these devices are
equivalent to a downloading service, whereas XM contends the
devices are protected under the 1992 Audio Home Recording Act
. In July,
XM requested that a federal judge dismiss the case. It should be
noted that XM's subscribers can save only songs they hear on the
radio and cannot request a specific song to be downloaded or
program their radios to record specific artists. XM's portable
devices allow the consumer to record a portion of their broadcast
much like a VCR
, or cassette player
would allow. The content a
subscriber records is available only while the subscriber still has
an active account with XM Satellite Radio. Once the account is
terminated, the recorded content will become inaccessible. Also, If
a subscriber fails to listen to a total of 8 hours of programming a
month, the recorded content will not be accessible. Recorded
content can be accessed only on the portable device; it cannot be
transferred to a home computer or separate digital music
The idea is not new: TimeTrax
Corporation developed an application to record songs to MP3 and tag
them with the artist and title information directly from the XM
network. In 2005 XM attempted to thwart this practice by
discontinuing the required XM PCR radio. TimeTrax responded by
quickly rolling out adaptive interfaces to allow almost any XM
subscriber to use their tuner to build music libraries directly
from XM broadcasts. There is speculation that these fumbles by XM
and its attitude towards the Time Trax technology may have been the
warning shot of major troubles between the RIAA and XM.
On January 19, 2007, a district judge ruled that the RIAA could
proceed with the lawsuit, rejecting XM's defense that the conduct
alleged in the complaint—if proved by the RIAA—would be immune
under the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992.
PCR and DirectPCR
At the heart of the TimeTrax controversy was the XM PCR
: a computer-controlled XM Receiver. Unlike the
other receivers, which could be used in the car or home stereo, the
XM PCR required a computer to run. A software application on the
computer acted as the radio's controls and display, which led to a
flurry of third party developers, who wanted to make a PCR
replacement. Many of them received Cease and Desist letters
from the XM
company. Once the PCR was discontinued, for the reasons listed
above, people found that the XM Direct, a receiver intended to be
used in satellite-ready car stereos, can be connected to a computer
with a very simple adapter cable. Some people have dubbed the
entire kit, with receiver, cable, and software, the Direct PCR.
While the original PCR software does not control the XM Direct
receiver, several community developers have continued to develop
PCR replacement software.
Merger with Sirius Satellite Radio
On February 19, 2007, XM announced a merger deal with Sirius Satellite Radio
. The merger
combined the two radio services and created a single Satellite
Radio network in the United States and Canada.
United States Department of
Justice announced on March 24, 2008 that it had closed its
investigation of the merger because it "concluded that the evidence
does not demonstrate that the proposed merger of XM and Sirius was
likely to substantially lessen competition."
On June 16, 2008, FCC
Chairman Kevin Martin
told the Washington Post
that he had decided to approve the XM-Sirius Merger after the
companies agreed in the previous week to concessions intended to
prevent the new company from raising prices or stifling
competition. Martin issued an order to approve the merger,
according to The Wall Street
— setting the stage for a final vote which could
have occurred any time after his recommendation was
The XM-Sirius Merger gained its final governmental approval from
the Federal Communications Commission on July 25, 2008, with Martin
and commissioners Robert M.
and deciding vote
Deborah Taylor Tate
the affirmative. As a term of the merger, the combined company will
be fined almost $20 million for failing to create and market
interchangeable radios capable of receiving signals from both
companies prior to the merger.
iPhone and iPod Touch application
has been developing a software application for use on the Apple iPhone and Apple iPod Touch devices that will allow its
subscribers and users of those devices to listen to its
An email from Sirius XM customer service began
circulating the internet that said the application would be
available in the Apple iTunes
store on June
Additionally, technology web site Engadget confirmed via a
telephone call to Sirius XM that the emails are legitimate and that
the application will be released. Reuters
news service also confirmed the release.
Following up on the reports, the application was released and
available for download on the evening of June 17, 2009. Sirius XM
set up a special
In November 2004, Canadian
filed an application with the Canadian
Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
to bring the
XM service to Canada. Along with Sirius
Canada and the consortium of CHUM Limited and Astral Media, CSR
was one of three applications for national subscription radio services submitted to
On June 16, 2005, the CRTC approved all three applications.
decisions were appealed to the Canadian federal cabinet by a number
of broadcasting, labour, and arts and culture organizations,
including the Friends
of Canadian Broadcasting, CHUM Limited, and the National Campus
and Community Radio Association.
The groups objected to
the satellite radio applicants' approach to and reduced levels of
French-language programming, along with the exclusion of Canadian
non-commercial broadcasting. After a lengthy debate, Cabinet
rejected the appeals on September 9, 2005.
XM's Canadian channels appeared on US receivers on November 17,
2005. On November 29, 2005, XM Canada officially launched.