With its shares of stock worth little more than a dime, Sirius XM will reportedly impose a rate increase on March 11th. The company will seek an extra $2 per additional subscription per user, plus charge $2.99 to stream Sirius XM online. The latter fee comes with an upside: all Internet subscriptions will stream with a 128k "premium" feed. According to customer support reps, current Sirius XM users can lock in at their current rates for the next three years if they re-up before March 11th.
Whether the price hikes have any effect on programming remains to be seen. While the increase isn't exactly wallet-draining, it's just another straw on the camel's back for those Sirius XM who told Rolling Stone in November that they were upset with the company since their respective stations merged into one entity in November 2008. Many listeners' favorite channels and genres were causalities of the station-merge, and customers complained of too much song repetition and DJ bantering.
Despite their huge, anti-trust-avoiding merger back in July 2008, Sirius XM has struggled to climb out of its cavernous debt. The current economic situation and a slow holiday season likely didn't help Sirius XM's problems, so the rate hikes are likely an attempt to help the company stay afloat. Fact is, radio itself is a bad business to be in right now, as even terrestrial radio suffered its worst year since 1954 in 2008. So if things are that bad when the radio is free, imagine how bad it is when you have to pay for it. Still, we're hoping our ordeal with Artie Lange and "The Howard Stern Show" these past few days have at least helped sell a couple radios.