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MEL KARMAZIN PLANS SIRIUS VIDEO FEED TO CARS

Also Comments on iPod Talks, Oprah and Rival XM

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Sirius Satellite Radio CEO Mel Karmazin admitted he has spoken to Steven Jobs about adding Sirius technology to Apple's iPod, has Oprah Winfrey on his talent wish list, and announced Sirius will soon ad video to its content.
Photo: AP
Mel Karmazin plans to beam children's video programming to car TVs.
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Satellite MP3 players
Speaking at Wednesday's 2005 Media Summit in New York, Mr. Karmazin didn't elaborate on his discussions with Mr. Jobs, but said that at this time Apple wasn't interested in equipping iPods with Sirius receivers because Apple felt consumers were satisfied with the 5,000-plus songs they can store on the digital music players. Mr. Karmazin did, however, forecast a future generation of satellite-equipped MP3 players, echoing analysts' longstanding predictions. He also announced that for the 2005 holiday season Sirius would offer a portable handheld device, similar to the Delphi MyFi product rival XM Satellite Radio unveiled last year.

XM is a little less than a year ahead of Sirius, he said, because they entered the market earlier. However, he insisted that there is enough room for two satellite services, calling it a "Coke-Pepsi" scenario. Eventually, he said, he sees satellite radio becoming as widely distributed as cable TV, if not more so.

'If Oprah was interested'
Mr. Karmazin danced around a question about who is on his on-air wish list, acknowledging he had dropped Ms. Winfrey's name during a late-January analyst call. His clarification of the earlier mention drew laughter: "I said, 'If Oprah was interested, we'd return her call.'" Other personalities rumored to be desirable to Sirius include former President Bill Clinton and his wife, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Karmazin, who left media giant Viacom, where he was president and chief operating officer, likened the "terrestrial" radio industry to newspapers in terms of its slow, but steady, growth. He pointed out that at a time when radio is tightening its belt, satellite radio is investing heavily in new content. "We are being very aggressive about new content," he said. Mr. Karmazin had been CEO of Infinity Broadcasting, one of the largest radio companies, before its acquisition by Viacom.

One of Sirius's most aggressive moves was luring shock jock Howard Stern away from Infinity, a few months before Mr. Karmazin came aboard. There has been wide speculation that Mr. Karmazin is negotiating with his former company to bring Mr. Stern to Sirius earlier than Jan. 1, 2006, when Mr. Stern's Infinity contract expires. Mr. Karmazin said that "the day Howard Stern is available, we will take him," but that as 2006 draws closer there is less incentive for Sirius to pay top-dollar to move up the date.

Video content
Mr. Karmazin also said he expects to add video content to the Sirius repertoire, capitalizing on the growing popularity of small-screen TVs in the back seats of automobiles. "I don't see Sirius bringing TV content into the home," he said, dispelling rumors that Sirius could align with one of the satellite TV providers, but added that for an extra subscription fee users could access three or four children-targeted channels in their vehicles.

A Sirius spokesman later said there are no details yet from where Sirius would procure programming but that the company plans to unveil the service in the second half of 2006.

Finally, Mr. Karmazin addressed questions about the Federal Communications Commission and indecency issues, likening satellite radio to HBO and other subscription-supported cable networks, which the government has clearly said it doesn't need to regulate. He said he's saddened by distillation of edgy media programs, but added, ever opportunistic, "We'll be a haven for them."

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