Sirius XM Says It Wants Ability to Raise Basic Subscription Rate

Sirius XM Radio Inc., the U.S. satellite radio broadcaster, wants to be free to raise its basic monthly subscription price from $12.95.

Sirius, which reported 19.8 million customers at the end of the third quarter, told the Federal Communications Commission in a Jan. 20 filing that the agency shouldn’t extend a price freeze negotiated as part of the 2008 merger that formed the company.

Sirius, the New York-based company created by Sirius Satellite Radio Inc.’s purchase of XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc., didn’t say in the filing whether it wants to raise rates.

Sirius and XM agreed to hold the basic subscription price unchanged for three years after the closing of their merger, an anniversary that falls on July 28, Sirius said in its FCC filing. It asked the agency to take “no steps” to extend or modify the rate cap.

Sirius said it faces a “robustly competitive” market with consumers able to choose terrestrial radio and Internet music services such as Pandora and Rhapsody, while carmakers including Toyota Motor Corp. and Ford Motor Co. offer ways to access Web-based entertainment in their cars.

Sirius gained 3 cents to $1.58 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading.

Sirius on Dec. 9 said it had reached an agreement with talk-show host Howard Stern to extend his contract by five years. Stern is responsible for adding about 2 million subscribers to Sirius since he moved from terrestrial radio in 2006, according to Tuna Amobi, an analyst at Standard & Poor’s in New York.

The FCC is reviewing the request, Janice Wise, a spokeswoman for the agency’s media bureau, said in an interview. Patrick Reilly, a Sirius spokesman, didn’t immediately provide a comment.

-- Editors: Allan Holmes, Romiane Bostick

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