XM Satellite Radio

"XM" redirects here. For other uses, see XM (disambiguation).
XM Satellite Radio
Division of Sirius XM Radio
Industry Radio broadcasting
Fate Dissolved
Founded 1988
Defunct January 13, 2011
Headquarters Washington, D.C., U.S.
Products Satellite radio
Parent Sirius XM Holdings
Website web.archive.org/web/20000301024042/http://www.xmradio.com/have.asp

XM Satellite Radio (XM) was one of the three satellite radio (SDARS) and online radio services in the United States and Canada, operated by Sirius XM Holdings. It provided pay-for-service radio, analogous to cable television. Its service included 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 were identified by Arbitron with the label "XM" (e.g., "XM32" for "The Bridge").

The company had 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.[1] On November 12, 2008, Sirius and XM began broadcasting with their new, combined channel lineups.[2] On January 13, 2011, XM Satellite Radio, Inc. was dissolved as a separate entity and merged into Sirius XM Radio, Inc.[3] Prior to its merger with Sirius, XM was the largest satellite radio company in the United States.


While the satellite receiver radio service was its primary product, XM operated several audio and data services, and advertising.

Satellite radio

XM's primary business was satellite radio entertainment. XM carried music, news (both simulcast and syndicated programming), sports, talk radio, comedy (both stand-up and radio shows), and even radio drama. In addition, XM used to broadcast local weather and traffic conditions in its larger markets. The channel lineup was available on-line.[4]

To receive satellite radio programming, a customer was required to purchase a receiver. Prices ranged from less than $50 to over $200. With a service commitment, it was possible to get a simple receiver for free. Monthly packages started at US$14.49/month[5] (changed since 2011 from US$12.95/month) with add-on "family" radios at US$8.99/month. Best-of-Sirius was available on US accounts for an additional monthly fee. Lifetime packages were also available (USA only). Channel quality was in one of 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 Satellite Radio logo from 2001–2006

XM Radio Online

XM Radio's online player prior to their merge with Sirius

XM Radio Online (XMRO), XM's Internet radio product, offered many of XM's music stations and could 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 provided data services such as weather information for pilots and weather spotters through its Sirius XM Weather & Emergency datacasting service. This up to the minute weather information could 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 could 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...) took 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 returned truly realtime information, but they costed many thousands of dollars, and did not provide forecasts and complete weather reports. FAA Temporary Flight Restrictions ( TFRs) were also available and shown. Certain aircraft had the XM radio service into the aircraft's audio system, as well, which allowed passengers to listen to XM radio while flying.[6][7]

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.

Customer Service

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."[8]

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. [9]

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.[8]

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.'"[8]

Exclusive channels


Company timeline

Year Event(s)
  • American Mobile Satellite Corp. is founded.
  • American Mobile Radio/ XM founder Lon Levin joins American Mobile Satellite Corp. Martine Rothblatt, founder and Chairman of CD Radio, amends her 1990 filing with the FCC to create a single satellite radio service frequency band to enable two satellite radio systems to operate within that frequency band.
  • 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 Government Regulatory.
  • October: XM Satellite Radio obtains one of only two satellite digital audio radio service licenses offered by the Federal Communications Commission. Together with CD Radio (SIRIUS), the two 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 subsidiary, 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 agreement.
  • 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 company.
  • 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 company.
  • September 25 (Originally set for September 12 and delayed because of "9/11"): 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 terrorist attacks.
  • 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, SingTel 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.[10]
  • 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 private investors.
  • 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 June Foray.
  • July: the company has nearly 700,000 subscribers.
  • 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 States.
  • 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 pick up.
  • 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 launched successfully.
  • March 3: XM becomes the exclusive satellite partner of the Indy Racing League and Indianapolis 500 (IMS Radio Network)
  • 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 quarter.
  • 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 million subscribers.
  • 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 5.03 million.
  • October 18: XM announces it will begin carrying Fox News Talk in January 2006.
  • 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 sports channels.
  • 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 "Home Ice".
  • November 29: XM launches service in Canada.
  • December 29: XM and VoiceBox Technologies join forces to provide conversational voice-driven XM experience to auto market.[11]
  • December 31: XM Satellite Radio ends the year with 5,932,957 subscribers.
Chart depicting subscriber growth for XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio as of the end of 2006.
  • January 2: XM begins broadcasting Fox News Talk as the channel launches. The channel includes commentators Bill O'Reilly, Tony Snow, John Gibson, and Alan Colmes.
  • January 4: XM announces it has surpassed 6 million subscribers.
  • 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 Eric Logan.
  • 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, formerly of XO Communications, 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 so on.
  • 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 rocket.
  • December 15: XM Radio Hanukkah goes on the air. The first of its kind channel features contemporary and traditional Jewish music, along with comedy, and children's programming. The original programming includes the participation of notable Jews, like Barenaked Ladies, Matisyahu, Al Franken, Kinky Friedman, Neil Sedaka, Dr. Ruth and Larry Miller.
  • 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.[12]
  • 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 services.[13]
  • 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.[14]
  • February 19: XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. and Sirius Satellite Radio announce they will merge, creating a satellite radio giant.[15] See XM/Sirius merger.
  • March 20: XM and Sirius Satellite Radio filed a "Consolidated Application for Authority to Transfer Control" at the FCC.[16]
  • 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.[17]
  • 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.[18] XM blames the situation on a "software glitch".[19]
  • 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.[20]
  • 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 Hour.
  • August 5: XM upgrades its Neural Audio processing mechanism to improve sound quality across its music channel selection.
  • November 8: XM launches XM59 – XM LED – The Led Zeppelin Channel.[21]
  • March 7: XM Discontinues the XM LED channel. (According to the channel's website, it is taking a break for the summer)
  • March 24: The United States Department of Justice declines to block the merger of XM and Sirius Satellite Radio after thirteen months of review.[22]
  • July 25: The FCC approves the XM-Sirius merger.[23]
  • July 29: Sirius and XM officially merge as Sirius XM Radio[24] XM Canada and Sirius Canada, subsidiaries of the parent companies remain separate until April 2011.[25]
  • 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.[26]
  • March 9: WXRK drops Opie & Anthony from their programming schedule ending their run on terrestrial radio. Opie & Anthony now heard only on satellite radio.
  • November 12: Gary Parsons resigned as chairman. He is replaced by Eddy W. Hartenstein, as the new non-executive chairman.
  • February 9: * DirecTV removed all Sirius XM music channels and replaced them with listings from Sonic Tap.[27]
  • February 1: XM increases their basic rate from US$12.99 to US$14.49.[28]


XM provided 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[29] in addition to a network of ground-based repeaters. The combination of two satellites and a ground-based repeater network was 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 could also be received in the Caribbean Islands and most of Mexico (reports have stated that areas north of Acapulco were able to receive a steady signal[30]), 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") suffered from a generic design fault on the Boeing 702 series of satellites (fogging of the solar panels), which means that their lifetimes were shortened to approximately six years instead of the design goal of 15 years.[31][32] 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.[12][33]

XM Satellite Radio headquarters in Washington, D.C., near the NoMa – Gallaudet University Metro station.

On June 7, 2005, Space Systems/Loral announced that it had been awarded a contract for XM-5.[34][35] 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, owned and operated 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 owned and operated approximately 800 repeater sites covering 60 markets; in Canada CSR was installing approximately 80 to 100 repeaters that was planned to 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 used 12.5 MHz of the S band: 2332.5 to 2345.0 MHz. XM provided 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 retained 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, transmitted coded traffic information directly to vehicle navigation systems using TMC technology.

Audio channels on XM were 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 was 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, was represented by only two carriers. The other 4 carriers carried 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.[36]

Each two-carrier group broadcast 100 8-kilobit-per-second streams in approximately 4 MHz of radio spectrum. These streams were 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.[37]

XM preprocessed audio content using Neural Audio processors that are optimized for the aacPlus codec, including spectral band replication (SBR). Audio was 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.

In the past, the Sirius XM Pops channel, which aired classical music, was 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. The former XM Live channel also broadcast in this format for certain concerts and studio performances. XM manufacturing partners such as Denon, Onkyo, Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc., and Yamaha introduced home audio systems capable of playing XM HD Surround. It is not known if the XM HD Surround technology is used on the service in 2015.

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.[38]


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.[39]

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

Main article: Sirius XM 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.[15]

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."[40]

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.[23]

iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry and Android applications

XM developed a software application for use on the Apple iPhone and Apple iPod Touch devices that allowed 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 SiriusXM Internet Radio subscribers are able to download the application from the Apple iTunes App-Store for free. Listening on an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch is included with some subscription packages, a separate fee is required with other packages.

SiriusXM debuted a new web page to market the application.

On February 4, 2010, SiriusXM 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 SiriusXM subscription.

SiriusXM is also available for download on Android devices through Google Play.

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.


Main article: XM Radio Canada

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.

See also


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  2. Hinckley, David (November 12, 2008). "Sirius-XM satellite merger brings changes and cuts". Daily News. New York. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  3. "2010 Form 10-K, Sirius XM Radio, Inc.". United States Securities and Exchange Commission.
  4. http://www.xmradio.com/onxm/full-channel-listing.xmc
  5. https://web.archive.org/web/20000301024042/http://www.xmradio.com/have.aspkeeplistening
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  8. 1 2 3 Baker, Liana B. (October 13, 2010). "States probe Sirius XM for consumer practices". U.S. News. New York: Reuters. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
  9. "BBB Business Review Reliability Report for Sirius XM Radio". Retrieved March 31, 2011.
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  13. Bloomberg News (January 18, 2007). "F.C.C. Chairman Says Rules Bar Satellite Radio Merger". The New York Times. Retrieved January 18, 2007.
  14. SEC Filing Archived February 17, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. February 14, 2007.
  15. 1 2 "SIRIUS and XM to Combine in $13 Billion Merger of Equals" (Press release). PRNewswire via Sirius.com. February 19, 2007. Archived from the original on February 22, 2007. Retrieved February 19, 2007.
  16. "Consolidated Application for Authority to Transfer Control". FCC.gov. 2007-03-20. MB Docket No. 07-57. Retrieved 2007-07-31.
  17. "XM Radio Suspends Opie & Anthony" (Press release). XM Radio via PRNewswire-FirstCall. May 15, 2007. Archived from the original on October 13, 2007. Retrieved May 15, 2007.
  18. Thornberry, Jacob (May 22, 2007). "XM Outage". Jaker's Blog. Retrieved May 22, 2007.
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  22. "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.
  23. 1 2 Hart, Kim (July 25, 2008). "Washington Post, July 25, 2008.". Washington Post. Retrieved July 25, 2008.
  24. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 2, 2009. Retrieved March 23, 2013.
  25. 1 2 http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2011/2011-240.htm
  26. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 14, 2009. Retrieved February 11, 2009. Sirius XM Filing Bankruptcy
  27. http://www.directv.com/DTVAPP/global/article.jsp?assetId=P6590007
  28. https://web.archive.org/web/20000301024042/http://www.xmradio.com/have.aspourmostpopularpackages-sirius
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  30. "XM radio in Hawaii". HawaiiThreads.com. December 22, 2004. Retrieved December 28, 2006.
  31. "Boeing 702 Satellites Solar Arrays Possibly Defective". SpaceandTech.com. September 29, 2001. Archived from the original on December 26, 2007. Retrieved December 25, 2007.
  32. 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.
  33. "Satellite Space Applications Accepted for Filing" (PDF). FCC.gov. June 9, 2006. Retrieved December 28, 2006.
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  39. Neumeister, Larry (January 20, 2007). "Suit by Record Companies Against XM Going to Trial". Associated Press. Retrieved January 20, 2007.
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