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Thread: The Libertarian promise of satellite radio... vs. the DMV-like reality

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    The Libertarian promise of satellite radio... vs. the DMV-like reality

    As a Libertarian, I loved the idea of satellite radio - in particular, the end-run around the government it promised. As an adult, I figure I'm capable of selecting the programming I like and turning the dial when I come across that which I don't. On regular radio, the FCC is always playing Parent - interceding when it (or more likely, a busybody with too much time on her hands) complains about some station's programming.

    Censorship sucks.

    Then again, so do monopolies - which is what SiriusXM has become. There's no choice or competition. You want satellite radio? It's them or nothing. At least when XM and Sirius were two separate entities, some pressure existed for each of them to offer a better deal, or service, or programing, than the other.

    Not anymore.

    Given it would take billions for a new competitor to launch its own satellites, create infrastructure and hire talent, market itself, etc. - it's not likely Sirius XM will feel pressure to offer better, less expensive programming anytime soon.

    Take it or leave it.

    That includes the commercials - which of course you get to pay to hear if you subscribe to Sirius/XM.

    True, the music channels are still mostly commercial-free - for now. (Although not entirely; there are still in-house promos - which is bizarre when you think about it because the only people hearing them are people who are already paid subscribers.)

    But the talk/news/entertainment channels often have more commercials (sometimes, 10 minute-long blocks of them that consume 40-50 percent of any given show's on-air time) than "free" radio - which is hard to put up with when you reflect you're paying anywhere from about $12 to $20 each month for the privilege.

    That's not the only way SiriusXM picks your pockets, either.

    For instance, let's say you're already a subscriber and decide to buy a new vehicle and want satellite radio in the new vehicle as well as the car you've already got. You'd assume the only thing you'd need to buy would be the satellite-ready radio for the new vehicle. After all, you are already a subscriber, right? Well, just like the Cable company, SiriusXM will charge you a separate fee to hook up the second vehicle's radio.

    Similarly, you'd think that since XM merged with Sirius and became one company (SiriusXM) you'd be able to get XM programming if you were formerly a Sirius subscriber and Sirius stuff if you were an XM subscriber. Well, you can - for a fee. To get Howard Stern's program on XM, for example, you have to pay more - even if you are already paying to hear him on Sirius. And bear in mind, the Stern Show is not part of the basic Sirius package; you have to pay extra to get him. But if you want to hear him on XM too, you have to pay again - on top of what you already paid to get him on Sirius.

    One annoyed subscriber writes:

    "I just purchased a new Ford truck, the flyer at the Ford dealer has XM channels listed. Being an XM customer I thought I could just add a second radio, but no not so. I need to open a new Sirius account at higher rate than just adding a second radio to my XM account. Get’s better, the flyer showed XM/Sirius channel listing, but when I tried to access my station (Village – channel 15) guess what, not available on my Ford Sirius radio."

    Meanwhile, you're compelled to buy all sorts of programming you likely have zero interest in - in my case, a dozen sports channels - in order to get the two or three talk/news/entertainment channels you do wish to listen to.

    This is a bald-faced rip-off, just like the evil practices of the satellite/cable TV companies. There is no technological reason why programming couldn't be a la carte. You pick (and pay for) the content you want - and that's it. How many of us regularly listen to more than 10 or 20 channels anyhow? Yet we have to wade through 150-plus channels - and pay for them - to get to what we do want.

    Isn't forcing people to buy what they don't want or need the job of government?

    Also, coverage can be spotty.

    Drive underneath a tree canopy and the signal sometimes cuts out. If you live in a mountainous area, the tuner will frequently go blank - "searching for signal" - for as long as 10 or 15 minutes at a stretch. usually this happens just when you're getting really interested in whatever you're listening to. When the signal comes back, it's invariably just in time for another 10 minute block of commercials.

    I speak from experience. Each week I test drive a new car or truck, many equipped with either Sirius or XM. I have sampled literally hundreds of vehicles, different makes and models, types and price ranges - you name it - all over this country. So I feel I can report these real-word truths to you with some authority.

    It's no surprise to me that SiriusXM has yet to make a cent in net profit - or that the company nearly went bankrupt in 2009 before Liberty Media Corp. bought 40 percent of the company for $530 million.

    Listeners - and I am one - want to be supportive but it's hard to feel happy about being force-fed commercials on pay-for-service radio, being double-billed for the same content you've already paid for, having to subsidize content you have zero interest in and deal with the aggravating technical problems that for all its faults don't plague "free" radio.

    I think SiriusXM could right itself and maybe even make some money if it figured out a way to get rid of most of the pushy commercials it currently loads up its talk/news/entertainment channels with (My guess is people would pay a few bucks extra in subscription in return for not having to listen to screeching shysters like Billy Mays and Gold Bug), let people buy only the programming they wanted on an a la carte basis - and merged their channels into a single menu from which people could pick and choose - rather than maintaining XM on the one hand and Sirius on the other.

    That would be in keeping with the Libertarian promise of satellite radio - in contrast to the bureaucratized, DMV-like mess it has turned out to be.

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    It was bad enough when it was an oligopoly. Now you're dealing with a monopoly; they have absolutely no reason to change.

    I've never subscribed, precisely because of the ILLOGIC of paying for commercial- free radio and then having to listen to commercials, and the further ILLOGIC that the commercials are promoting something I've already bought. Clearly, a large portion of the potential subscriber base also understands the double illogic.

    I'm not sure you can do anything about the dropouts using inexpensive receivers. For recorded material, it should be possible for a receiver to pre-fetch and cache say, 20 minutes of material, so as to mask dropouts.
    Last edited by MikeHalloran; 02-01-2010 at 12:58 PM.

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    The only good use I can see for Satellite radio is for Over The Road truckers.

    It's never made a profit cause nobody wants to pay a monthly fee + the cost of a receiver. I think it was part of the internet bubble - a concept that one could create software, with a reoccuring fee.

    My beef is with Direct-TV. For $60 a month this is what you get: 250 channels of mainly nothing. The stations have their commercials synchronized to stop one from channel hopping. There are atleast 15-20 advatorial/shopping channels (the Knife Channel - really). Late at night, many channels switch to Paid programming. On a Saturday night one is hard pressed to find decent entertainment or a movie. They have the worst web site that's slow, clumsy, and buggy. However their billing software is top notch!

    If you want HD - that's $5 more a month. To add an extra receiver is $5 a month. Pay-per-view movies are $5. Local channels are additional. Sports - well that's a package..... Everything is an addon. I suppose there are some minority familes in NJ, on public assistance that have the whole works for $195 month

    It's sickening - but your only other choice is nothing. These monopolies suck!

    With the advent of CD's, ripping friends CD's, and music downloads, I don't think XM will make it.

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dBrong View Post
    The only good use I can see for Satellite radio is for Over The Road truckers.

    It's never made a profit cause nobody wants to pay a monthly fee + the cost of a receiver. I think it was part of the internet bubble - a concept that one could create software, with a reoccuring fee.

    My beef is with Direct-TV. For $60 a month this is what you get: 250 channels of mainly nothing. The stations have their commercials synchronized to stop one from channel hopping. There are atleast 15-20 advatorial/shopping channels (the Knife Channel - really). Late at night, many channels switch to Paid programming. On a Saturday night one is hard pressed to find decent entertainment or a movie. They have the worst web site that's slow, clumsy, and buggy. However their billing software is top notch!

    If you want HD - that's $5 more a month. To add an extra receiver is $5 a month. Pay-per-view movies are $5. Local channels are additional. Sports - well that's a package..... Everything is an addon. I suppose there are some minority familes in NJ, on public assistance that have the whole works for $195 month

    It's sickening - but your only other choice is nothing. These monopolies suck!

    With the advent of CD's, ripping friends CD's, and music downloads, I don't think XM will make it.
    This is precisely why I threw DirectTV in the woods - literally.

    The synchronization of their shyster commercials is especially galling. TV is a wasteland. Do what we did and get Netflix. They have an extensive library, including all the cool/worthwhile stuff on the History, Military and Science channels, etc. - but with no god-damned shyster commercials!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Do what we did and get Netflix. They have an extensive library, including all the cool/worthwhile stuff on the History, Military and Science channels, etc. - but with no god-damned shyster commercials!
    I didn't know that.

    Did you know you can watch a lot of older Hitchock shows on HULU.com.

    Actually, you can see more and more shows on the net.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by dBrong View Post
    I didn't know that.

    Did you know you can watch a lot of older Hitchock shows on HULU.com.

    Actually, you can see more and more shows on the net.
    Speaking of older media, did you know that a lot of old media can be freely distributed without seeking permission or paying royalties first? Copyrights dont last forever, and many of the "golden oldies" from the 1920s and earlier are now copyright-free due to legal restrictions expiring. I just watched "A Trip To The Moon" free without breaking any laws - it was made in 1902, thus making it too old for any copyrights on it to be binding today.

    Youd be amazed at the weird old stuff that's out there.

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RebelKnightCSA View Post
    Speaking of older media, did you know that a lot of old media can be freely distributed without seeking permission or paying royalties first? Copyrights dont last forever, and many of the "golden oldies" from the 1920s and earlier are now copyright-free due to legal restrictions expiring. I just watched "A Trip To The Moon" free without breaking any laws - it was made in 1902, thus making it too old for any copyrights on it to be binding today.

    Youd be amazed at the weird old stuff that's out there.
    I didn't know that!

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