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Next Big Thing in Radio...Or Pie in the Sky?

Boot Camp feature for Tuesday, September 25, 2001

The launch of satellite radio. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. Is it the next big thing in broadcasting... .or is it pie in the sky? XM Satellite Radio is the first of the new services to begin beaming digital radio channels... ..

"We're hoping it will change radio the same way cable television changed the way people watch television."

XM VP Scott Cook. Like cable TV... subscribers will have to pay... about ten dollars a month for the service. And what will you get for your money?

"You can receive XM literally coast to coast. So you can drive from Washington to L.A. and never lose a channel. We have a hundred stations of all kinds of music, news, talk, sports, even comedy programming. It's all digital sound quality, so it'll sound much different than today's AM and FM and then lastly, we have many commercial free channels. We have thirty totally commercial free channels."

In cities and areas where satellite signals can be interrupted, XM is using locally based repeaters to transmit signals. And that is the basis the National Association of Broadcasters is using to oppose the new systems... .

"They've built something like 66 of these repeaters in Boston alone, which is more than twice the number of local radio stations they have in Boston."

And, says the NAB's Dennis Wharton... the suspicion is the companies plan to turn those into local radio stations if satellite radio fails. XM tells us it has no such fly by night scheme. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.