MediaFile

Howard Stern’s TV judging stint a boost for Sirius XM

Howard Stern is going to be a judge on the NBC show “America’s Got Talent,” this summer and Wall Street is already betting this is going to benefit the shock  jock’s satellite radio home, SiriusXM Radio.

Stern, who will replace the less potty mouthed Piers Morgan, will raise the profile of his radio show and drive new subscribers, at least one analyst said on Thursday.

“We see this as a positive for Sirius, holding potential for free on air-promotion, positive for awareness and sub growth, depending on how the TV show fares,” said Lazard analyst Barton Crockett in a research note.

His new gig won’t effect his current job, where he is locked down until 2015. What’s more, the show is even moving its production to New York from Los Angeles, so the east coaster Stern can have an easy commute.

Stern inked a five-year deal Sirius XM last December that nets him about $80 million a year, according to analysts.  He brought an estimated 1.2 million subscribers to Sirius when he joined the fledgling satellite radio company in 2006.

Sony’s Sir Howard Stringer makes fun of News Corp hacking scandal

On the same day that James Murdoch was fighting for his career at a parliamentary hearing on Thursday in London, Sony’s CEO Sir Howard Stringer was making fun of the whole situation an ocean away.

At a fancy breakfast hosted by News Corp’s Wall Street Journal in New York (where Sirius XM’s CEO Mel Karmazin was in the house), Stringer was the guest of honor.  WSJ editor Robert Thomson kicked off the Q&A session introducing Stringer, who later took the opportunity to show off one of Sony’s new products, a pair of binoculars that can be used to record video or pictures in 3D. That’s when Stringer seized the moment to turn the breakfast into an impromptu roast about News Corp’s woes.  Wielding the binoculars, he said:

“These are 3D binoculars. I venture it got good reviews. The Wall Street Journal will equip all their reporters with this. And if you think hacking the Royal Family is fun with phones, this is the ideal device. If you stay at the Hotel InterContinental Hyde Park, you can actually gaze into Buckingham Palace with these. I am telling this to (Thomson), wherever you are. Did you leave already? This is for you. This is for you. Video recording or stills.”

from Summit Notebook:

Sirius CEO Karmazin limbers up for the Howard Stern dance

It’s been five years since Sirius lured shock jock Howard Stern to satellite radio with a $500 million contract. Whether Stern can re-up with a similar deal when his contract expires at the end of next year is anyone's guess, but it ought to be entertaining. Sirius XM CEO Mel Karmazin is preparing himself for negotiations with the self-proclaimed King of All Media.

In a meeting with reporters at the Reuters Media Summit on Monday, Karmazin gave us a thumbnail sketch of his version of "The Art of the Deal."

“I could tell you, it will start with Howard feeling that he is working too hard and doing too many shows and not making enough money. Our side would say, 'We want you to do more, and get less money,'” Karmazin said.

Live blog from the Reuters Global Media Summit

Reuters reporters will be sending live updates from interviews with guests including Disney’s Anne Sweeney, IAC’s Barry Diller, WPP’s Martin Sorrell, Sirius XM’s Mel Karmazin and more.

Better days ahead for Sirius XM?

Sirius XM Radio has reason to be excited about the success of the cash for clunkers program. The satellite radio operator, which posted quarterly results this morning, raised its income outlook for the year on a potential rebound in car sales.

Chief Executive Mel Karmazin said on the earnings call that he was cautiously optimistic that auto industry sales will pick up in the second half of this year.

After all, any increase in car sales translates into more subscribers for Sirius XM, which gets most of its new users from satellite radios built into cars.

Sirius unveils iPhone App: reviews not so good (updated)

Sirius XM Radio has launched its long-awaited App for the iPhone to mixed reviews. That’s not surprising, really, since the legion of Sirius subscribers has never been sheepish about the pay radio service.

Many users like it, so they can get unique programming in a slick iPhone App. Now they can take Martha Stewart Radio, Road Dog Trucking and the Praise Channel with them anywhere. But you can’t listen to exclusive stuff like Howard Stern’s programming, or Major League Baseball games or the Nascar channel. Ouch.

It’s true that only a handful of channels are excluded (for rights reasons) versus the 120 channels one can listen to. But many Sirius XM subscribers are drawn to the service primarily for Stern, Baseball and the NFL, and they are not pleased. Of 421 user reviews on the iTunes App Store, 261 rate it 1 (out-of-5) stars, and its average is 2 stars. By contrast, online radio app Pandora scores an average 3.5 stars (from a much larger survey sample).

Sirius: Rumors of our near death? It was the media’s fault

It’s the media! That’s what Sirius would have us believe.

On a post-earnings call on Thursday executives said the company’s precarious financial position during the last few months as it sought to resolve a looming debt debacle was exacerbated by the media’s interest in Sirius. Apparently, stories about companies going bust not only upset investors and creditors, but customers too.

Sirius XM President of Operations Jim Meyer told Wall Street analysts he’s excited to have completed the debt refinancing and merger between Sirius and XM so the company can assure customers it will be around for a while.

There certainly was headwind associated with both the confusion of putting the two companies together and the overall just unbelievable amount of news and press that we have seen really in the fourth quarter and continuing in January and February on the financial condition and refinancing of our balance sheet.

Dish’s Charlie Ergen: Me and Mel don’t have a beef

Ah the media, we love a ruckus. We really do. And when the two pugilists are characters as colorful and savvy as Dish Network’s founder Charlie Ergen (left) and Siriux XM Satellite Radio CEO Mel Karmazin (right) we do really get excited.

If you remember, Ergen was widely reported last month to have made a back door bid to take a stake in Sirius XM by quietly buying up some of the satellite radio company’s outstanding debt.  Analysts and experts came up with all kind of theories as to Ergen’s ambitions including taking complete control of Sirius on the cheap, combining various satellite assets, and kicking Mel out.

At the time Ergen ‘s official channels at Dish and EchoStar declined to comment on the matter. So today’s Dish earning call was the first time we heard from the man himself on the matter. Well, it turns out the press was right on most things connected with the Sirius bid, according to Ergen. Except for one thing: he does not have bad blood with Sirius CEO Karmazin.

Liberty: Stern is safe — for now

So after two weeks of following all the twists and turns of Sirius XM’s attempts to avoid bankruptcy, CEO Mel Karmazin decided on John Malone, founder of Liberty Media, to come in as Sirius XM’s white knight with a $530 million loan . The loan will cover the satellite radio provider’s looming debt and help it avoid bankruptcy. As part of the deal Liberty will eventually take a 40 percent stake in Sirius’ equity.

But does this mean the big money deals that Karmazin signed with the likes of Howard Stern, Oprah Winfrey and Major League Baseball will get re-worked at a more favorable rate for the company now that there’s a new major stakeholder?

No, says Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei in an interview with Reuters.

You can look and say some of these content deals were cut at a time when there were two guys (Sirius and XM) bidding against each other in a relative frenzy. Having said that, a lot of these content relationships like Howard Stern are very valuable to this company, have been important in building the company, and are likely to be important in sustaining it.

Sirius XM shares are — wait for it — higher!

Sirius XM shareholders have seen a lot of dark days — face it, we’re talking about a stock that dropped to 15 cents a share. But today isn’t one of them. At least so far.

Indeed, shares of the satellite radio company jumped 100 percent after Liberty Media Corp agreed to lend it $530 million, allowing Sirius XM and its leader, Mel Karmazin, to sidestep a debt crisis.

The deal comes after a breathless week during which Sirius XM came under threat from EchoStar Corp and its top man Charles Ergen, a longtime rival of Karmazin, and looked very close to bankruptcy.