Sirius to launch TV service in Chrysler cars

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NEW YORK -- Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. will launch its backseat television service exclusively in several DaimlerChrysler cars and minivans later this year, the companies said Thursday.

Sirius, which plans to acquire rival XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. in a deal that must first pass regulatory muster, said three live child-themed TV channels would be available in 2008 model year cars in the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge lines. Sales of those cars will start later this year.

The satellite radio provider has been promising such a service since 2004, but at that time it said deals with manufacturers and content providers needed to be hammered out. Last November, chief executive Mel Karmazin said the service would launch in 2007.

The system will cost about $470, which includes the first year of service, when packaged with Chrysler's rear seat entertainment system in new cars. Customers must subscribe to Sirius Satellite Radio.

After that first year, TV service will be $7 a month in addition to the $13 a month for Sirius satellite radio.

Channels on the service include Viacom Inc.'s Nickelodeon, Walt Disney Co.'s Disney Channel and Time Warner Inc.'s Cartoon Network.

Asked about some of the evening shows broadcast on Cartoon Network that are aimed at adults, a Sirius spokesman said that the 24-hour programming in the car will always be suitable for children.

He added that the service could be available in other carmakers' vehicles beyond the 2008 model year.

The TV channels represent one of the last major programming thrusts by Sirius, now that it has signed all the celebrity hosts, car agreements and high-level investments it needs to keep the accelerator on subscriber growth, Karmazin told Reuters in November.

Sirius shares were unchanged at $3.26 midday on Thursday.
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