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XM Hits The Airwaves

After delaying for two weeks following the terror attack on the United States, XM Satellite Radio today officially launched the first U.S. digital satellite radio service featuring 100 coast-to-coast digital channels of music and information programming.

“What we are doing is launching a powerful new communications and entertainment medium-what we call ‘Radio to the Power of X,'” XM President and CEO Hugh Panero said at ceremonies at the company’s headquarters in Northeast Washington D.C. We have music channels to soothe your mind and information channels to fill it.”

Noting that the nation must begin to return to a degree of normalcy, Panero added, “Today, like the federal government, the Congress and the stock market, business needs to get back to business. And that includes new businesses like ours.”

The availability of the service is thus far limited to Dallas and San Diego markets, but the company announced today that it is accelerating its pace for national coverage. That acceleration may be in part because the Federal Communications Commission recently granted the XM and rival Sirius Satellite Radio permission to use terrestrial repeaters, despite strong opposition from the NAB. These repeaters will allow the satellite radio companies to send radio signals into areas of spotty coverage, as well as into tall downtown office buildings.

For a monthly fee of $9.99, XM subscribers can receive 71 music channels, more than 30 of them commercial-free; and 29 channels of sports, talk, children’s and entertainment. The offering includes 13 news channels such as CNBC, CNN Headline News, CNNfn, FOX News, ABC News & Talk, USA Today, Bloomberg, BBC World Service, C-SPAN, and its own XM News.

Manufacturers including Sony, Alpine, and Pioneer are distributing XM-capable receivers through electronics retailers like Best Buy, Circuit City, Sears, and Crutchfield, and several automakers have announced plans to begin rolling satellite radios in new cars beginning this fall.  

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