Sirius adds some XM channels to radio service

NEW YORK Tue Sep 30, 2008 11:53am EDT

A Sirius Satellite Radio unit is shown installed in a private vehicle in Washington February 20, 2007. REUTERS/Jason Reed

A Sirius Satellite Radio unit is shown installed in a private vehicle in Washington February 20, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oprah Winfrey, professional hockey and basketball games and other programing previously exclusive to XM Satellite Radio can now be heard on Sirius's service, some two months after their controversial merger was completed.

Similarly, Sirius says Howard Stern's channels are available on XM's system, as Sirius XM Radio rolls out its "Best of..." feature.

Bringing together exclusive content was one of the chief benefits Sirius and XM proposed as their merger sought shareholder and regulatory approval.

Receiving the additional programing requires subscribers to upgrade to a plan that costs about $17 a month, compared to the typical $13-a-month plan.

"Now for the first time, you can add XM channels to your Sirius subscription," Sirius said on Tuesday on its website www.sirius.com/bestofxm.

Sirius subscribers can also hear XM's "Opie and Anthony" shows, professional and college basketball games, and other programing. XM's web site also lists 6 "Best of Sirius" channels featuring Stern's programs, "Martha Stewart Living Radio" and professional racing and football talk stations.

The move is the first of several changes expected at Sirius during the first year after the merger, including the introduction of new programing packages and portable radios.

While its radio plans are moving ahead, Sirius still faces tough challenges that have weighed on its stock price, driving its shares down 62 percent since Sirius completed its $3.3 billion acquisition of XM Satellite Radio.

The shares were mostly unchanged on Tuesday at 62 cents on Nasdaq.

The decline has come on concerns about XM's subscriber growth targets, and its ability to pay its debts amid the current credit crisis.

(Reporting by Franklin Paul, editing by Dave Zimmerman)

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