November 12, 2008

Sirius/XM Merger Attacks! Listeners Irate as Favorite Channels Vanish

Greetings. The merger of two satellite radio services into one -- promoted ironically as a boon to listeners, has finally taken its toll on programming. Today the newly branded Sirius/XM channel layout took hold on existing radios, and the Net is abuzz with listeners who have found themselves on the short end of the new lineup.

Favorite channels have in some cases vanished. Some of XM's best have been replaced with inferior Sirius alternatives. One of my most preferred channels -- Cinemagic -- which combines film scores with short movie excerpts -- is suddenly being announced as "off the air" until next year (and in what format when it returns, one wonders?).

Out of curiosity (and before I make a decision to cancel my subscription) I called customer service to find out what was really going on with Cinemagic. The rep insisted that it had merely moved channels, not gone off air -- even when I played the channel announcement to him that was clearly to the contrary!

In other words, they don't have a clue about what's really going on.

OK, I agree, the loss of movie music (hey, I'm a classic film fan) isn't the end of the world. But it's likely the end of this subscriber, and judging from what I'm seeing in various Web forums, I'm not the only one who is finding the "one satellite radio service is better than two" theory to be entirely unconvincing.

While there are alternatives -- such as Internet streams -- for much of this material, for in-car and portable situations satellite radio really has been a wonderful development. Or at least it was, until U.S. government agencies decided to void their own "no merger" rule for Sirius and XM, reducing the choice for consumers in this market segment by a full 50% in one fell swoop.

Fans of the now dead XM channels can presumably find other uses for their subscription fees -- unless they're on annual payment plans. Hmm, are the channel lineup changes sufficient cause to cancel an annual fee mid-year without penalty?

Satellite radio may have just driven a stake into its own heart.


Posted by Lauren at November 12, 2008 11:12 AM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
Google+: Lauren Weinstein