I splurged and took a taxi to JFK airport in New York City today, and waddayaknow, my driver was a dedicated Sirius XM fan. We listened to the Love Channel for a while (I would not have taken him for a Lionel Richie type of guy). I asked him how much he likes Sirius XM. A lot, he replied, and took me on an extended tour of all the channels in his package.
This made me feel a little optimistic for the company. Checking the web I found some basis for this. Turns out that Sirius XM is issuing over 250 million in senior secured notes to pay back that humongous loan it borrowed from Liberty Media. Its second quarter financial numbers aren’t all that bad either. The company reports a one percent increase in revenue from the same time last year, which isn’t a lot, but beats Clear Channel and Westwood One, both of which appear to be in free fall, revenue-wise.
On the other hand, the satellite company says it is slightly down in subscribers—a one percent drop; at this point Sirius XM has 18,413,435 customers, my taxi driver among them. But given the state of the economy, that might be another sign of the services’ strength.
The company still has some loose ends it has to tie up with the Federal Communications Commission. Sirius XM still hasn’t figured out how to distribute those minority channels it agreed to share when it got merger approval from the FCC and Department of Justice (The FCC just gave Sirius yet another extention on this problem). And it still has to resolve a nasty dispute with the Wireless Communications Service over tower and translator positioning.
But things look better for satellite radio than they have in a while. The Love Channel sounded good, too.
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