Satellite And HD Radio -- Perfect Together

If and when Sirius and XM Satellite Radio get the green light to merge, new radios will have to be manufactured to allow both services which use different technology to be heard on one receiver. The FCC had always mandated that when satellite radio was created, both satellite networks had to be heard on all receivers. Somewhere along the way, the FCC let this little detail slip away. Could you imagine an AM/FM radio that only receives one station? Well, actually, I can because WBEB-FM, Philadelphia founder Jerry Lee used to manufacture and give them away to advertisers before a crackdown stopped his great promotion.

So follow me on this. The merged XM and Sirius will require a new satellite radio receiver in order to pick up both services. What if a third band for HD radio was included. This immediately eliminates the anti-trust issues and gives ‘terrestrial’ broadcasters a reason to support the merger. One of my radio friends sent this idea along to me. I am intrigued.

This is a win-win. It avoids a knock down drag out regulatory battle that could spook the public from committing to satellite service while everything is in flux.

Radio manufacturers can sell radios.

The destructive issues go away because satellite and terrestrial radio interests would be forced to hold their noses and compromise. Who would have thought -- terrestrial radio companies in bed with their obsession, satellite radio.

Heck, even the many satellite employees certain to be out of work with this proposed merger of equals could find employment in -- you guessed it -- HD radio.

Your imagination could run wild:
  • HD channels with new programming and a new market that doesn't bastardize their existing terrestrial sister stations
  • Satellite programmers might be able to provide new channels for HD stations in business arrangements with terrestrial operators
  • Real time traffic, deep specialized programming, improved fidelity among other things would be a welcomed addition to "radio" as it would eventually be known
  • Build interactivity into the receiver
  • Focus on being the "joint" hit-maker to a new generation
  • Oh, could someone please get rid of those dorky looking HD radios and design some cool ones in case anyone wants young people to listen (think sleek iPod-type design)
Radio people like each other -- even love each other in some ways -- but it's in their DNA to be fiercely competitive thus terrestrial radio wants so badly for satellite to fail and satellite so badly wants to reinvent radio. But imagine the two interests together.

Okay, we'll let them be greedy -- after all even fantasizing can't change that. But there is a real possibility that this new kind of joint radio can serve the public interest in a way that has not happened to date.

Radio gets to keep being AM and FM.

Satellite gets welcomed back into the radio (literally, through the new receivers)

HD actually has a reason for existing and more importantly gives the consumer a possible reason to spend more to upgrade what they never would upgrade -- a radio.

Some day they'll even sell their platforms together -- not a bad thing. This is where Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin could be a real killer. And who is going to quibble over a monopoly by then?

So while we're being outrageous -- and we are to think that the only two satellite operators could become one without being a monopoly -- why not bring that dead radio walking (HD) into this extreme makeover.

I'm sure some of the terrestrial radio execs will get their underwear in a knot over this idea -- ooh, getting into bed with satellite radio -- revolting, but radio programmers know better. They are the ones who develop the content -- always have, always will. And if this isn't a way to get back to deep, rich content -- the stuff that could reinvigorate the medium and maybe attract the next generation -- nothing is.