Sirius XM Radio plans iPod, iPhone streaming

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Financially struggling Sirius XM Radio Inc. is planning to stream its subscription radio service to the iPhone and iPod Touch devices from Apple Inc. beginning this spring.

After narrowly avoiding a filing for bankruptcy protection last month, the nation's only satellite radio provider wants to step up sales directly to consumers. New car purchases -- which had been Sirius' best source of customers -- are way down.

Sirius XM also said Thursday in a call to discuss its fourth-quarter earnings that it's ramping up efforts to reach buyers of used cars with factory-installed satellite radios.

"We've been testing a number of initiatives to make the Sirius XM content and experience more ubiquitous," said Jim Meyer, president of operations and sales at New York-based Sirius.

Sirius now has 19 million subscribers, up 10% from a year earlier.

By streaming its music, sports and talk channels to users of the iPhone and iPod Touch, Sirius can give its existing subscribers another way to access content and let new customers sign up without buying new radios, CEO Mel Karmazin said.

Sirius also sees opportunities to bundle its satellite radio service with TV packages from DirecTV Group Inc. DirecTV's controlling shareholder is Liberty Media Corp., which rescued Sirius from a debt bind last month with a $530 million investment. Karmazin said he has met with DirecTV CEO Chase Carey and Liberty CEO Greg Maffei over the past few days.

On Tuesday, Sirius reported a fourth-quarter loss of $248.5 million, better than a loss of $405 million in the year-earlier quarter. Sales climbed to $644.1 million from $577.5 million a year earlier. Those results were adjusted to assume that Sirius' July 2008 purchase of XM occurred on Jan. 1, 2007, to enable year-over-year comparisons.

Shares of Sirius rose by two cents to 18 cents in midday trading.
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