Sirius XM Merger Reveals True Face: Fewer Channels And 'Sanitized' Programming

This week, Sirius XM began consolidating its channels. In reality, this mostly meant jettisoning XM channels wherever there was a tenuous overlap with something Sirius already offered, which is bad news for anyone with a favorite station on XM who woke up Wednesday morning to find it missing. Alex wrote in to tell us that the four Spanish music channels have been condensed to one without regard to genre, and that the uncensored “urban music” station Hot Jamz has been cleaned up, rechristened “The Heat,” and now leans toward radio-friendly R&B. The Motley Fool suggests that the new lineup may drive people to downgrade their subscription—it’s “an incentive to downgrade to the cheaper plan that costs $6 less a month and lets users cherry-pick 50 stations.”

In addition to the latin and urban channels, Alex wants to know why Sirius XM couldn’t have better prepared its listeners:

First off, why such secrecy? Millions of subscribers were blindsided yesterday. No announcements of any kind were made over the air to let people know what was going on. To them, everything was fine on Tuesday, but all of a sudden on Wednesday, their favorite channel was deleted or changed fundamentally. This was a breach of trust between the provider and the consumer. We are the subscribers. We are paying for this service. We deserve a voice over what it is we want to hear. More importantly, we deserve input about programming we are willing to pay for.

Second, we the consumers, Congress, and the FCC were assured that allowing the merger would increase diversity and choice. Wednesday’s change showed you acted in bad faith. On the XM side, we lost 75% of the Spanish music choice. To clump together the previous 4 genres of music offered by Aguila, Viva, Caricia, and Caliente into one channel shows either cultural ignorance or contempt for diversity. My congressional representatives will be hearing from me about this.

Third, the new censorship. I bought Sirius to free myself from the shackles of FM. Hot Jamz has been neutered into “The Heat,” essentially a satellite version of my local R&B station. I simply couldn’t listen to it today. The songs were heavily edited and censored. This is the antithesis of what Sirius once stood for, what bringing Howard from FM symbolized. Fact is, urban music is written in the vernacular. What “The Heat” did to Hot Jamz is an insult.

Fourth, continuing on the theme of less choice. Sirus XM acted in bad faith when it shrunk the available choices:

No more electronica from Boombox — now pop2k… isn’t there enough pop with 90’s on 9, the Pulse, and Alt Nation?

No more Old Skool. No more Punk. No more Fine tuning/free form.

No more educational radio via Discovery channel. (I’m still raw over that)

Instead we get less choice and shallower playlists on what used to be Fred, Lucy, and Ethel.

Mel et al., you really should listen to what you customers have to say. (these are your most ferverent fanatics, and yet their poll shows less that 33% are satisfied)

If you had asked us to begin with, you may have avoided this heartache.

Dual-sub non grata,

As an aside, if you’re a Mitsubishi Outlander owner experiencing problems with Sirius updates, Andy has figured out how to fix it:

Sirius recently merged with XM and my radio received an update as part of the merger. It killed the radio in my Mitsubishi Outlander with an “Antenna Error” message. I argued with 4 or 5 CSRs at Sirius that this was not a hardware issue, the timing is too perfect. I ended up pulling the #7 fuse and it reset the radio. Voila, the radio is back up and running. However, every time they send an update I have to pull the fuse. I hope this helps other MMS owners, and I hope Sirius gets this figured out asap. This is a factory installed radio part of the Mitsubishi Multi Messaging System premium radio system.

Here’s a link to my forum post:

“Sirius XM Has Crossed the LIne” [The Motley Fool]

“Sirius gets serious, reshuffles lineup, cuts DJs” [Cnet]
“XM, Sirius change lineups as expected” [Technologizer]
(Photo: docsearls)

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