Wednesday, November 16, 2005

CANADA'S SATELLITE RADIO OPTIONS LOOK UNINSPIRING

It looks like I am going to take a pass on Satellite Radio after all.

Well, XM Radio came out with its list of channels for Satellite Radio in Canada and I must say, it doesn't look like it's a sell for me. On the one hand its news offerings look very good. In addition to Fox News and CNBC and some other channels, they are planning something called Canada 360 which is a Canadian all-news service. And they'll be carrying Bob Edwards- that guy who NPR fired for no reason who got a new show on satellite and is helping sell XM radios. That's all good.

But I looked at the sports offerings and it doesn't look like they will have much compared to SIRIUS. They have Fox Sports Radio which I can get for free off the Internet, they have a Major League Baseball channel, and they have two NHL channels and will be carrying 1,000 NHL games. You'd think I'd be pleased with this. The problem is the American XM service carries all the Major League Baseball games- and it appears the Canadian version does not, at least not yet; all we get is a single baseball channel. Also missing from the lineup is NASCAR Radio, which is a big part of the XM lineup in the USA! It's not available in Canada!

But XM made sure the NHL was available in Canada. So hockey fans win in Canada but if you're a race fan, like me, you lose. You don't count as a sports fan in Canada unless you like hockey. I really hate it when other sports get the shaft and that's what we're getting here.

The bottom line for me is that I'm not going to waste money on XM just to hear 1,000 NHL games, and here's why. First, you can tune into NHL games for free over the Internet. Second, you can tune in games for free on regular AM Radio! In Toronto alone you can hear games for the following teams: the Leafs, Senators, Sabres, Red Wings, Blackhawks, Canadiens (in French), Bruins, Devils, Islanders, the Wild, and occasionally the Rangers, too. You're basically set. Even if they get all these baseball games on XM, you can hear baseball for free all over the AM radio dial, too, even more than hockey. So why bother paying $14 a month and shelling out money to buy a new satellite radio when you can listen to games on these 50,000-watt AM stations or on the Internet? You'd have to be a fool to pay for a product you could get for free.

The other thing I read is that Canadians who'd buy these satellite radios in the USA for cheap are apparently not going to be able to use these things in Canada. Instead, they'll have to buy a different, specially-made Canadian radio that will only work in Canada, and I heard the prices are going to be through the roof compared to what the Americans pay. I read it might be over $300 dollars! I don't know why these folks would even want to do this, up the price for satellite radios, because this sounds like a sure way not to get sales. We'll see if this actually happens or not, but if that's what we're in for, the usual soak-the-public attitude that we usually get from businesses here, they will be selling VERY few radios.

In any event, I won't pay any money for a mediocre, second-rate satellite radio product, just because it's satellite radio. What's the point of buying it--- to impress my friends!? Even if they cut prices to $99 I'm tempted to say no to both these packages, XM and Sirius, and stick to listening to EZRock and the FAN, CFRB, 680News and all the usual free stations. What's certain is that Canada is being hosed again in its programming choices. Satellite radio is great in the USA, but the Canadian version of it looks lame in comparison and certain to be a waste of money. It's obvious now that I'm going to have to pack up and move to the 'States.

I'm angry and ticked off because I was ready to purchase these things. I guess I'm still mad about the Howard Stern decision. They allow nudity and foul language on TV, and Canada allows gay marriages and all kinds of personal liberties to happen, yet Howard Stern is considered too dangerous for people to even pay to listen to! It makes absolutely no sense! You know, SIRIUS sales in the USA are going through the roof because people want to hear Howard Stern. Howard Stern is a big selling point for them. But how does SIRIUS expect to sell radios or subscriptions in Canada without Stern? These guys are going to go right out of business in Canada with no Stern.

The CRTC is DEFINITELY to blame. They're behind this Stern-not-coming-to-Canada mess. The Sirius people here all but admitted it in print. I gathered elsewhere the CRTC was going to pull the same stunt on Sirius that they pulled on Q107 when they used to air the Stern show in Toronto- they wanted the whole thing monitored and censored in advance. Except this time it was going to be an absolutely impossible task. Stern's new satellite show promises to be totally over-the-top in the offensiveness department, way worse than any of his regular radio shows, and that won't do in Canada. The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council rules and regulations were going to be applied to satellite radio, too. I read that SIRIUS decided it was too big of a headache and said the heck with it, No Stern in Canada. Well, ain't that great? We finally get satellite radio, and it gets regulated to death by the government. So the product ends up being--- regular radio. And they expect the public to want to pay for it.

These people in Canada don't get it! They don't get that customers need to have a reason to want to tune in and shell out money for this product! They think the customers grow on trees! Well, all I'll say is that we do have a choice in the matter and I think I'm going to be saying no to satellite radio- until they get their programming act together, or we get a new government. One or the other. The best way we can show displeasure with the second-rate choices on satellite radio is to not buy their product and hope people get the message, then maybe they'll do something to improve it. That's what I fully intend to do.

I don't blame XM or Sirius so much. Instead, BLAME CANADA. Freaking hockey fans.

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