XM Satellite Radio
|It has been suggested that this article be merged with Sirius Satellite Radio to Sirius XM Holdings. (Discuss) Proposed since March 2015.|
|Division of Sirius XM Radio|
|Headquarters||Washington, D.C., U.S.|
|Parent||Sirius XM Holdings|
XM Satellite Radio (XM) is one of three satellite radio (SDARS) services in the United States and Canada, operated by Sirius XM Holdings. It 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 Arbitron with the label "XM" (e.g., "XM32").
The company has its origins in the 1988 formation of the American Mobile Satellite Corporation (AMSC), a consortium of several organizations originally dedicated to satellite broadcasting of telephone, fax, and data signals. In 1992, AMSC established a unit called the American Mobile Radio Corporation dedicated to 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, 2008, XM and former competitor Sirius Satellite Radio formally completed their merger, following U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval, forming Sirius XM Radio, Inc. with XM Satellite Radio, Inc. as its subsidiary. On November 12, 2008, Sirius and XM began broadcasting with their new, combined channel lineups. On January 13, 2011, XM Satellite Radio, Inc. was dissolved as a separate entity and merged into Sirius XM Radio, Inc. Prior to its merger with Sirius, XM was the largest satellite radio company in the United States.
- 1 Services
- 2 Company
- 3 Clear Channel programming agreement
- 4 XM vs RIAA
- 5 PCR and DirectPCR
- 6 Merger With Sirius Satellite Radio
- 7 iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry and Android applications
- 8 Canada
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes
- 11 External links
While then 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 is possible to get a simple receiver for free. Monthly packages start at US$14.49/month (changed since 2011 from 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). Channel quality is two flavors, stereo music channels at 39 kbit/s and mono talk channels at 16 kbit/s using proprietary compression. Many subscribers have complained about the low quality of satellite radio sound. But providers have stuck with the plan for more channels instead of better quality. HD terrestrial digital radio, a competitor has always used this difference as a selling point.
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. Prior to March 11, 2009, XMRO was included with XM Radio subscriptions, or was available separately for $7.99/month to Internet-only subscribers.
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 USA and Canada. The downside is that the various weather streams (radar, cloud coverage, lightning, forecast, TAF, FA, etc...) takes around 15 minutes to complete the data download, meaning that the information can somewhat be out-of-date by the time it is shown. In-cockpit radar and lightning receivers return truly realtime information, but they can cost many thousands of dollars, and do not provide forecasts and complete weather reports. FAA Temporary Flight Restrictions ( TFRs) are also available and shown. Certain aircraft are also now integrating the XM radio service into the aircraft's audio system, as well, allowing passengers to listen to XM radio while flying.
Commercial adoption and partnerships
In 2005, AirTran Airways began 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 months.
In contrast to its high-quality broadcasts, Sirius/XM's customer service has drawn fire from some state governments. In October 2010, Richard Cordray, Ohio's Attorney General, began investigating complaints regarding Sirius XM's policies on billing, customer solicitation as well as subscription renewals and cancellations. The company informed shareholders of the probe shortly thereafter. According to news reports, Arizona, Connecticut, Tennessee, Vermont, and the District of Columbia have expressed interest in participating in the inquiry.
According to Reuters, "The investigations come as Sirius XM, home to programs by Howard Stern and Oprah Winfrey, has found its footing and distanced itself from years of huge losses and questions about its business model."
In a report obtained in March 2011, The Better Business Bureau reported receiving over 4500 complaints against Sirius XM in the preceding 36 months, around half of which regarded the company's billing and collection practices. 
In Missouri, some people registered on the state's do-not-call list have complained about receiving repeated calls from Sirius XM workers or agents after cancelling their subscriptions. Some Florida customers have reported being billed for automatic renewals of accounts they had canceled. Further, Sirius XM was sued in federal court by a customer accusing it of deceptively raising prices.
The report also stated that "Sirius, in a statement, said it was cooperating with the investigations and that it believed its 'consumer-related practices comply with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations.'"
- Opie Radio (formally: The Opie & Anthony Channel)
- The Pink Channel
- Bollywood & Beyond
- Fox Sports Radio
- MLB Play-by-Play
- Extreme Talk
- America's Talk
- Talk Radio
- ATN-Asian Radio
- XM Scoreboard
- ESPN Xtra
- Calendrier Sportif
- XM Deportivo
- Laugh Attack
- Canada 360
- Quoi de Neuf
XM provides digital programming directly from two high-powered satellites in geostationary orbit above the equator: XM Rhythm at 85° west longitude and XM Blues at 115° 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. The signal 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 702 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 Systems/Loral 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 large antenna.
In American and Canadian metropolitan areas, XM and its Canadian licensee "Canadian Satellite Radio" (CSR) and operating as Sirius XM Canada, 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 public.
The XM signal uses 12.5 MHz of the S band: 2332.5 to 2345.0 MHz. XM provides 128 kilobits per second of its bandwidth to OnStar Corporation 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 as AcuraLink.
XM NavTraffic, an optional service, transmits coded traffic information directly to vehicle navigation systems using TMC technology.
Audio channels on XM are digitally compressed using the CT-aacPlus (HE-AAC) codec from Coding Technologies for most channels, and the AMBE codec from Digital Voice Systems for some voice channels, including all of the Traffic and Weather channels.
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 signal diversity. 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 codec, including spectral band replication (SBR). Audio is stored digitally in Dalet audio library systems using an industry-standard MPEG-1 Layer II at 384 kbit/s, sometimes known as MUSICAM. The 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, is the result of a partnership between XM and Neural Audio Corporation which provides content with six discrete channels of digital audio. XM Live also broadcasts in this format for certain concerts and studio performances. XM manufacturing partners such as Denon, Onkyo, Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc., and Yamaha have introduced home audio systems capable of playing XM HD Surround.
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 Coast to Coast AM, but the shows could only be broadcast inside the bandwidth controlled by Clear Channel. In June 2003, Clear Channel entered into a forward sales agreement 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 and the 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, which forced the Mays family members off the board of directors. Per the original agreement, Clear Channel had the right to program 409.6 kbit/s (or 10%) of XM bandwidth, requiring XM to include commercial advertising on the existing Nashville!, KISS, Mix, and Sunny (now The Music Summit). 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. Exceptions include syndicated music shows which carry network spots. Clear Channel advertising on XM is handled by its subsidiary, Premiere Radio Networks. Clear Channel also provided existing talk channel programming (Fox Sports Radio, Extreme XM, Talk Radio). Clear Channel also controlled America Right (formerly Buzz XM), 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, were canceled. Instead Clear Channel chose to introduce other music and talk channels. Newer channels including ReachMD, America's Talk remain on the air. The Pink Channel, National Lampoon Comedy Radio, WSIX-FM, WLW, and Rock@Random were launched and later removed, and replaced by channels like Bollywood & Beyond, The Music Summit, and Sixx Sense, all of which are on the air today.
Seen as a blow to XM's 100% commercial-free music channel status, XM Executive Vice President of Programming Eric Logan released a programming announcement 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 Channel.
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, DVR, 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 player.
The idea is not new: TimeTrax Technologies Corporation, led by CEO Elliott Frutkin, 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 1991.
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.
The 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 Journal – setting the stage for a final vote which could have occurred any time after his recommendation was circulated.
The XM-Sirius Merger gained its final governmental approval from the Federal Communications Commission on July 25, 2008, with Martin and commissioners Robert M. McDowell and deciding vote Deborah Taylor Tate voting in 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, iPod Touch, BlackBerry and Android applications
Sirius XM developed a software application for use on the Apple iPhone and Apple iPod Touch devices that will allow Sirius XM subscribers to listen to its programming over the Apple devices. The Sirius XM iPhone App became available in the Apple iTunes Store on June 17, 2009.
All Premium Sirius XM Internet Radio subscribers are able to download the application from the Apple iTunes App-Store for free onto their device and access the service. Subscribers who listened to the Basic Online Service for free must first upgrade to the Premium Online Service for $2.99 per month to access the application on the iPhone or iPod Touch.
Sirius XM debuted a new web page  to market the application.
On February 4, 2010, Sirius XM released an app for the Research In Motion BlackBerry line of smartphones, including the Storm (Series 9500), Bold (Series 9000 and 9700), Tour (Series 9600) and Curve (Series 8500 and 8900). Like the Apple iPhone/iPod Touch application, the BlackBerry app is free but requires a Premium Sirius XM Online subscription.
The applications carry most of the XM music, talk, sports and entertainment programming, as well as some exclusive Internet-only content. The mobile applications also carry a select number of channels from the "Best of SIRIUS/XM" packages, dependent on the subscriber's subscription level.
In November 2004, Canadian Satellite Radio 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 the CRTC.
On June 16, 2005, the CRTC approved all three applications. The 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 Canadian content and 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.
- Boeing Satellite Systems
- List of Sirius XM Radio channels
- Sirius Satellite Radio
- XM Radio Canada
- XM Satellite Radio channel history
- Kawamoto, Dawn (July 29, 2008). "Sirius And XM close merger". CNet.com. Retrieved July 29, 2008.
- Hinckley, David (November 12, 2008). "Sirius-XM satellite merger brings changes and cuts". Daily News (New York). Retrieved November 12, 2008.
- "2010 Form 10-K, Sirius XM Radio, Inc.". United States Securities and Exchange Commission.
- "The Choice is as Clear as Glass". Garmin.com. Retrieved February 17, 2007.
- "XM Satellite Weather Now Available in Business Aircraft Cabins" (Press release). FlightDisplay.com. October 24, 2006. Retrieved February 17, 2007.
- Baker, Liana B. (October 13, 2010). "States probe Sirius XM for consumer practices". U.S. News (New York: Reuters). Retrieved March 31, 2011.
- "BBB Business Review Reliability Report for Sirius XM Radio". Retrieved March 31, 2011.
- XM Radio News Room http://xmradio.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=press_releases&item=983
- "VoiceBox Technologies and XM Satellite Radio Join Forces..." (Press release). Business Wire via FindArticles.com. December 29, 2005. Retrieved December 28, 2006.
- "XM Completes New State-of-the-Art Satellite System With 'Rhythm' and 'Blues'" (Press release). XM Radio via PRNewswire. December 18, 2006. Retrieved December 28, 2006.
- Bloomberg News (January 18, 2007). "F.C.C. Chairman Says Rules Bar Satellite Radio Merger". The New York Times. Retrieved January 18, 2007.
- SEC Filing February 14, 2007.
- "SIRIUS and XM to Combine in $13 Billion Merger of Equals" (Press release). PRNewswire via Sirius.com. February 19, 2007. Retrieved February 19, 2007.
- "Consolidated Application for Authority to Transfer Control". FCC.gov. 2007-03-20. MB Docket No. 07-57. Retrieved 2007-07-31.
- "XM Radio Suspends Opie & Anthony" (Press release). XM Radio via PRNewswire-FirstCall. May 15, 2007. Retrieved May 15, 2007.
- Thornberry, Jacob (May 22, 2007). "XM Outage". Jaker's Blog. Retrieved May 22, 2007.
- Musgrove, Mike (May 22, 2007). "XM Satellite Radio Hit By Temporary Outage". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 22, 2007.
- "XM Chief Executive CEO Hugh Panero to Step Aside" (Press release). XM Radio via PRNewswire-FirstCall. July 24, 2007. Retrieved July 24, 2007.
- "XM launches XM LED, the Led Zeppelin Channel" (Press release).
- "Statement of the Department of Justice Antitrust Division on its Decision to Close its Investigation of XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc.'s Merger with Sirius Satellite Radio Inc." (Press release). U.S. Department of Justice via USDOJ.gov. March 24, 2008. Retrieved April 21, 2008.
- Hart, Kim (July 25, 2008). "Washington Post, July 25, 2008.". Washington Post. Retrieved July 25, 2008.
- http://www.wealthalchemist.com/Blog/2009/02/sirius-xm-filing-bankruptcy/ Sirius XM Filing Bankruptcy
- "XM radio in Hawaii". HawaiiThreads.com. December 22, 2004. Retrieved December 28, 2006.
- "Boeing 702 Satellites Solar Arrays Possibly Defective". SpaceandTech.com. September 29, 2001. Retrieved December 25, 2007.
- Lai, Shu T (2005). "Charging of Mirror Surfaces in Space". Journal of Geophysical Research 110: A01204. Bibcode:2005JGRA..11001204L. doi:10.1029/2002JA009447. Retrieved December 26, 2007.
- "Satellite Space Applications Accepted for Filing" (PDF). FCC.gov. June 9, 2006. Retrieved December 28, 2006.
- "Space Systems/Loral to Build Next Generation Satellite for XM Satellite Radio" (Press release). Space Systems/Loral. June 7, 2005. Retrieved December 28, 2006.
- "XM 5". Skyrocket.de. June 2005. Retrieved December 28, 2006.
- http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/7075946-description.html This XM patent describes the carrier allocation scheme
- http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/7075946-description.html XM Patent Method and apparatus for audio output combining
- CLEAR CHANNEL COMMUNICATIONS, INC. Form 10-Q for Q306
- Neumeister, Larry (January 20, 2007). "Suit by Record Companies Against XM Going to Trial". Associated Press. Retrieved January 20, 2007.
- "Statement of the Department of Justice Antitrust Division on its Decision to Close its Investigation of XM Satellite Ratio Holdings Inc.'s Merger with Sirius Satellite Radio Inc." (Press release). Department of Justice Antitrust Division. March 24, 2008. Retrieved March 24, 2008.
- Official website (United States)
- Official website (Canada)
- Official XM For Business website (for commercial use)