Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Copyright Royalty Board Decision by December 17

Mel Karmazin, CEO Sirius, said today:

You've heard a little bit about the royalty proceeding and that royalty proceeding covers the period from January 1, 2007 to the end of 2012. The trial associated with that came to a close about two weeks ago and we expect the copyright royalty board judges to reach a decision in mid-December.

As we have been following the development of the Copyright Royalty Board, we can corroborate this statement. Late this morning, we received the following statement in an email from the Copyright Royalty Board:

The Judges will be issuing their determination by no later than December 17, 2007.

So, before Christmas, XM and Sirius will either have their Christmas presents or their lumps or coal.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

XM and Sirius Oppose NAB's Bid to Stop Clock

In the FCC comments on the merger today, XM and Sirius opposed the NAB's and US Electronics' petition to stop the merger clock (see Orbitcast article NAB wants FCC to stop the clock).

The NAB's motivation is pretty clear; they will do anything to stop the merger. One has to admire the NAB's undying commitment to its members. They are just earning their keep. U.S. Electronic' (USE) motivation is less clear. It has been carrying the ball lately in the effort to derail the merger. USE lost its lawsuit against Sirius. One has to wonder if this is its motivation for playing the spoiler.

Sirius' and XM's arguments are persuasive. One of the NAB's argument to stop the clock is that it has filed for information concerning the FM modulator fiasco under the Freedom of Information Act. The NAB has been unable to obtain the information. XM and Sirius argue that the names of the manufactures and distributors, the names and titles of employees, the recollection of present and past employees, and the responses to the Commission's Letter of Inquiry are irrelevant. We agree. So does the Enforcement Bureau. They make one very good point in a very amusing (perhaps biting is a better word) way:

Instead, NAB claims without a hint of irony that without the unreleased records, which are already in the Commission's possession, the Commission "cannot make an informed decision regarding whether the Applicants can be relied on to keep their promises and comple with any conditions."

They seem to almost belittle USE for its "me too" petition, calling their arguments "a hodgepodge of unconnected and irrelevant assertions that should also be decisively rejected by the Commission." We take exception to one of XM's and Sirius' arguments. The interoperable receivers are relevant to the merger. One of their arguments for not having them today is that no manufacturer wants to manufacture them. The same will hold true for the receivers required to receive both XM and Sirius promised as part of the merger. They could use the same argument post merger to renege on this promise. But, in general, we agree with the satellite radio providers. USE's arguments are like a loose canon, aimlessly wandering about, wreaking havoc everywhere it touches. Even a blind hog finds an acorn now and then.


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Monday, October 22, 2007

XM to Test Health of XM1 and XM2 Satellites

XM recently requested three Special Temporary Authorities (STA's) for 30 days "to assess the performance of the XM system and the state of health of the XM−1 and XM−2 payloads." The testing will be be conducted in the center of XM's spectrum, normally reserved for the repeater network. The transponders will be operated at saturation while the EiRP measurements are made. No doubt that this is an effort to improve the redundancy of the system to avoid the fiasco that resulted in the temporary lost of one satellite and the repeater system.

XM1 and XM2 serve as in-orbit spares for XM3 and XM4.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Chose to Know... Or Not to Know

The saga of the Ikno opposition to Pioneer's Inno trademark application continues. There is nothing like waiting until the eleventh hour and screwing it up. The closing date for discovery in the trademark trial was September 23, 2007. Ikno's attorney filed a motion for a 45 day extension for discovery on September 25, 2007 (dated the 23rd). The stated purpose of the extension was to allow time for the two parties to reach a resolution. What Ikno's attorney didn't know was that he was required to serve this motion on the opposing party. Opps! Consequently, the Trademark Office rejected the motion on October 10, 2007.


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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Charlie Daniels Band Lends Support to Merger

Charlie Daniels isn't fiddling around. He recently sent his comments to the FCC in support of the merger. He hosts his show, Road Dog Trucking, on Sirius channel 147. His support is for the truckers that spend much of their lives on the road and who have played no small part in the success of satellite radio. He feels that there will be a wider range of programming options for truckers and that the merged company will be able to devote more resources to trucking issues such as traffic and weather.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Satellite Radio Reaches Agreement on Royalty Rates for Satellite TV

This might be old news for some, but it is the first that we have heard. Sirius, XM, and MTV were before the Copyright board to determine fair royalty rates for digital audio channels on satellite TV. According to the site, the proceeding are over due to the three reaching agreements with SoundExchange. Here's a reprint from the site:

Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings and Ephemeral Recordings for a New Subscription Service

(Docket 2005-5 CRB DTNSRA)

Hearing Information

The rebuttal phase of the trial to determine the reasonable rates and terms for a new type of subscription service that performs sound recordings on digital audio channels programmed by the licensee for transmission by a satellite television distribution service to its residential customers where the audio channels are bundled with television channels as part of a “basic” package of service and not for a separate fee was scheduled to take place from September 10, 2007 through September 12, 2007.

However, the Services (Sirius Satellite Radio, Inc., XM Satellite Radio, Inc., and MTV Networks) and SoundExchange reached an agreement and therefore no further proceedings are necessary.



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Cousin Brucie Lends Support to Merger

Today, Bruce Morrow (aka Cousin Brucie) filed his comments with the FCC in support of the merger. He makes the point that terrestrial stations are pulling the plug on oldies hits. His stream on Sirius gives him "the opportunity to play classic favorites that have all but forgotten by other stations." "The merger of XM and Sirius will ensure that satellite radio remains a strong alternative to ubiquitous Top 40 stations..." He also comments that the a la carte pricing will be a benefit to subscribers.

It is good to see him weigh in on the merger.

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