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Note To Opie: Take Heart From The Andy Rooney-‘60 Minutes’ Fiasco

By | Tuesday July 8, 2014 @ 4:21pm PDT

Note To Opie: Take Heart From The Andy Rooney-‘60 Minutes’ FiascoI have to admit that when I see the name Opie, I immediately think of Mayberry, Andy Griffith and Ron Howard before he shaved. Now I understand that shock jock Anthony Cumia was fired last week by Sirius XM for being, I think the technical term is, a tweeting moron. His on-air partner Greg Hughes — known to all by the same moniker as Sheriff Taylor’s kid — is said to be “devastated.”

Take heart, Opie — I promise, your Anthony will be back. Just remember what happened to Andy Rooney.

In the late winter of 1990 David Burke, the newly appointed president of CBS News, suspended Rooney, who was 71 at the time and the most popular cast-member of Sunday Night Live — I mean 60 Minutes — for three months. The trouble had begun a few weeks earlier, during a year-end special, when the curmudgeonly commentator expressed his opinion that “too much alcohol, too much food, drugs, homosexual unions, cigarettes [are] all known to lead to premature death.”

This was in the pre-Internet era, of course, which just goes to show that a) the Web didn’t invent mass-media stupidity and b) the Web also didn’t invent the widespread belief in  massively stupid commentary.

You’ve doubtless surmised by now that I don’t have much sympathy for Anthony Cumia’s predicament. I hate hate speech, in any form, but especially when promoted by people in power, which, certainly through no … Read More »

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Liberty Media Withdraws Proposal To Buy SiriusXM In Stock Reshuffling Designed To Help Charter Expand

By | Thursday March 13, 2014 @ 3:15pm PDT

Liberty Media logoSiriusXM shares are down about 2.4% to $3.29 in post-market trading after Liberty Media said it will sit tight with its 53% stake in the satellite radio company while it reshuffles its asset portfolio — potentially to help Charter Communications expand. “We are creating two new tracking stocks, Liberty Media and Liberty Broadband,” CEO Greg Maffei says. With the new plan, “our offer for SiriusXM is no longer applicable” although there could be further discussions about it. “We remain enthusiastic owners” of a majority stake in the satellite broadcaster. Liberty offered in early January to buy the stock in SiriusXM that it didn’t own for $3.68 a share — a mere 3% premium over the price before the announcement. SiriusXM directors named a special committee to assess the plan and ensure that it didn’t shortchange other shareholders.

In the new stock plan, Liberty will reclassify its current securities and give owners one share of the new Liberty Media and four shares of Liberty Broadband. The Broadband stock will represent the company’s interests in Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable, and location determination firm TruePosition. Investors also will have a subscription right giving them 40 trading days to buy at a 20% discount an additional share in Liberty Broadband for every five that they own. That cash will go to the cable-focused entity and “provides us greater flexibility to, among other things, support Charter in its expansion efforts,” Liberty Chairman … Read More »

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Liberty Media Generates Q4 Profit Due To Strength At SiriusXM

By | Friday February 28, 2014 @ 5:41am PST

Liberty Media logoLiberty Media is too important a company to ignore, but since it’s mostly a holding company for stock in other publicly traded entities there’s rarely anything surprising in its earnings report. That’s pretty much the case this morning as Liberty reported Q4 operating income of $189M, up from a $60 loss at the end of 2012, on revenues of $1.03B, up from $44M. The big difference? In January 2013 Liberty acquired a controlling interest in SiriusXM. And earlier this month the satellite radio company reported its results for the last three months of 2013 which included a 12% revenue gain vs the previous year to $1B but with a drop in profits in part due to its efforts to retire some debt. Liberty is now trying to acquire the minority interest in SiriusXM that it doesn’t own. “We believe this combination will simplify the capital structure, further align management and provide ultimate strategic and financial flexibility,” Liberty CEO Greg Maffei says this morning. On other fronts, the value of Liberty’s stake in Charter Communications appreciated 1.5% in the last three months of 2013 to $3.67B while Live Nation was +6.4% to $1.05B, and Barnes & Noble was +10.4% to $255M.

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SiriusXM Delays Plan To Buy Back Liberty Media Shares While It Weighs Takeover Offer

By | Friday January 24, 2014 @ 1:44pm PST

The satellite radio company has postponed from January 27 to April 25 the planned $240M share repurchase from majority owner, John Malone’s Liberty Media.SiriusXM But Malone shouldn’t fret: SiriusXM now says that it will buy $340M of Liberty’s holdings at $3.66 a share. Meanwhile a special committee of SiriusXM’s board is weighing the takeover offer by Liberty, which owns 52%. It has proposed a stock swap that would give SiriusXM shareholders 39% of Liberty. But their shares would not entitle them to vote on Liberty’s affairs, and would give them a negligible premium over the value of their SiriusXM holdings when the offer was made. The radio company says today that the board has hired Evercore Group to provide financial advice, and Weil, Gotshal & Manges to help with legal matters. The board committee will “review and evaluate whether the Liberty Media proposal is in the best interests of SiriusXM and its stockholders, other than Liberty.” It doesn’t plan to say anything else until it decides what to do. 

Related: Should SiriusXM Ask Howard Stern To Take A Pay Cut?

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Should SiriusXM Ask Howard Stern To Take A Pay Cut?

Fans of the shock jock won’t like the conclusions that Macquarie Equities Research’s Amy Young reaches in a new report on this provocative question. HowardSternWhile Howard Stern was a big draw for SiriusXM in 2004 when he agreed to join the satellite radio service, “the sub base is now at 25M and there’s less necessity to strike a deal when his contract comes up for renewal at the end of 2015,” the analyst writes. She bases that conclusion on a survey of 800 SiriusXM customers. It found that 12% listen to Stern, and 30% of this group tune in less than twice a week. More to the point, just 5% of all subs “would consider leaving Sirius XM if he were no longer available.” In addition, 96% say that they aren’t willing to pay extra to have him in the lineup. That indicates that Stern “could have less leverage in the next contract negotiations.” Young says that he took a 20% pay cut in 2010 with a contract that paid $80M a year, and estimates that it could drop another 13% to $70M a year in 2015. “What this tells us: for new entrants or ‘niche’ players, obtaining high-profile anchor content is a key differentiator and important in building a critical mass,” she says. “As the business evolves, it becomes less vital.” That lesson could also affect DirecTV as it negotiates to extend its deal for Read More »

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Spike Lee Heads To Sirius XM Radio For Next Joint

By | Wednesday January 22, 2014 @ 12:50pm PST
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Liberty Media Offers To Buy Sirius XM

By | Friday January 3, 2014 @ 1:56pm PST

John Malone‘s company proposes a stock swap that would value Sirius XM at $3.68 a share — a mere 3% premium over Friday’s closing price of $3.57. Sirius XM logoLiberty Media already owns more than 52% of the satellite radio company’s shares, so this wouldn’t change control, and it says that it won’t squeeze out other investors. It will only go ahead if a special committee of independent directors, and other shareholders, support the change. They likely would insist on a higher price. The goal is to “simplify the capital structure and pursue other economic opportunities,” Liberty CEO Greg Maffei says. The company also says that Sirius XM shareholders will benefit by ending up with 39% of Liberty, though their shares would not entitle them to vote on its affairs.

Related: SiriusXM Will Raise Rates 3.5% In January

“We believe the combined company will have better access to capital and all of Liberty’s shareholders — both its current shareholders and the Sirius shareholders who become Liberty shareholders as a result of the proposed transaction — will enjoy enhanced liquidity as shareholders of a $27 billion market capitalization company,” Maffei says. Malone adds that a deal “will enable us to focus our energies on the pursuit of new opportunities across the expanded portfolio of Liberty’s businesses.” Everything that Malone does has to be seen in the context of his eagerness to help Charter Communications (where Liberty’s the biggest shareholder) buy Time Warner Cable. “There are lots of ways that something can occur there,” Maffei says. “It’s likely that (a potential deal for TWC) would close significantly later than the transaction contemplated here.”

Here’s Liberty’s announcement: Read More »

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SiriusXM Will Raise Rates 3.5% In January

By | Thursday October 24, 2013 @ 5:11am PDT

The price for consumers will go up 50 cents to $14.99 a month, CEO Jim Meyer told analysts this morning in a conference call to discuss Q3 earnings. Although this was a “difficult decision,” he says, SiriusXM‘s satellite radio customers see value in the service and the rate hike “will not significantly impact retention next year.” The disclosure followed the release of Q3 earnings results that sent the company’s stock down 2.8% in pre-market trading. SiriusXM generated $62.9M in net income, down 15.6% vs the period last year, on revenues of $961.5M, +10.9%. Analysts expected revenues to come in higher, at $969.7M. Earnings at 1 cent a share also were short of the 2 cents the Street anticipated. The company ended up with 25.58M subscribers, up 513,078 from June. Execs say the satellite service is still flying. They raised their forecast for net subscriber additions this year to 1.6M from 1.5M, and revenue estimates to $3.77B from $3.7B. They also predict 2014 revenues to hit $4B. Meyer says he’s optimistic due to “continued growth in new automobile sales and an increasing number of existing self-pay subscribers selling their cars and rotating back into our trial funnel.”

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Liberty Media Unveils Deals With Sirius XM and Comcast Ahead Of Investor Meeting

By | Thursday October 10, 2013 @ 5:02am PDT

UPDATED: John Malone’s company will give Wall Street a lot to talk about today. Shares in Liberty-controlled Sirius XM are already up about 2% in pre-market trading after it said that it will add $2B to its share repurchase program, which will include a buy-back of $500M worth of Liberty’s stake. That will leave the media holding company with 52% of the satellite radio service. In addition to that deal, Liberty says it recently completed a transaction to recover 6.3M of its shares that Comcast held. In return for its stock, the cable giant picked up Leisure Arts Inc, $417M in cash, and Liberty’s rights to a revenue-sharing deal with CNBC. Liberty also says that it will sell $500M in debt to help it pay off what it calls “privately negotiated cash convertible note hedge and warrant transactions.” It warns that the process of unwinding those deals “could have the effect of decreasing the trading price” of Liberty’s stock. In addition to all that, Liberty Interactive — a separate company that Malone controls — said that it will create a tracking stock for QVC (along with its 38% interest in HSN), and spin off its 57% voting stake in TripAdvisor. The new company will be called — what else? — Liberty TripAdvisor Holdings. The transactions are complicated and expected to be tax-free — characteristics of most Malone deals. Investors will hear more about … Read More »

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SiriusXM Agrees To Pay $530M For Auto Information Service Agero

By | Thursday August 15, 2013 @ 4:58am PDT

NEW YORK, Aug. 15, 2013 — Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI) today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the connected vehicle services business of Agero, Inc. for $530 million in cash.

The connected vehicle unit of Agero is the leading provider of innovative telematics services, offering safety, security and convenience services for drivers and end-to-end, turnkey solutions for automakers. Following the acquisition, SiriusXM will provide connected vehicle services to more automotive manufacturers — including Acura, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Lexus, Nissan and Toyota — than any other telematics provider.

Read More »

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Radio Host Art Bell Joins SiriusXM To Present Talk Show About The Paranormal

By | Tuesday July 30, 2013 @ 8:28am PDT

NEW YORK—July 30, 2013 – Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI) announced today it will be the exclusive home to legendary radio personality Art Bell, marking the return of the trailblazing late night host to radio with a new, expanded live, nightly call-in show on which he will explore the paranormal, unexplained and more with expert guests and listeners nationwide.

Read More »

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SiriusXM Raises 2013 Subscription Forecast As Car Sales Remain Strong

By | Tuesday July 9, 2013 @ 5:05am PDT

SiriusXM shares are up about 2.3% in pre-market trading today after the satellite radio broadcaster announced that it ended Q2 with more than 25M subscribers, a net addition of 715,000 — well ahead of analyst expectations. The increase in the quarter is 15% higher than the increase in the same period last year, a new record for the company since Sirius and XM merged in 2008. As a result, execs now expect to end this year adding 1.5M, up from their previous prediction for +1.4M. CEO Jim Meyer calls the Q2 results “an exciting new milestone” that should “bolster SiriusXM’s leadership position in a dynamic audio entertainment marketplace.” The company reiterated its forecast to add 1.6M self-pay net subscribers in 2013. Most of SiriusXM’s new customers are auto buyers, and the company attributes much of its recent growth to the continued strength in that market. Sales in June were up 11.2% vs the month last year, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 15.98M, Automotive News reported.

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Liberty Media CEO Foresees Cable Mergers But Remains Coy About Charter’s Plans

It’s natural to wonder whether Liberty Media Chairman John Malone’s new acquisition of 27.3% of Charter Communications is merely Step One in a plan to make him a U.S. cable titan — the role he played until 1999 when he sold Tele-Communications Inc to AT&T. And while Liberty CEO Greg Maffei doesn’t predict that, he also didn’t rule it out today in a quarterly earnings call with analysts. He says that cable “could be in for a round of consolidation” at a time when it’s so inexpensive to borrow money and large companies covet opportunities to cut costs — for example by negotiating lower prices from programmers. He cryptically adds that even though Charter can do just fine as a stand-alone entity, “we’ll see” whether it ends up being “a consolidator or condolidatee.” Liberty’s stock purchase agreement gives it the right over time to raise its stake to 40%. Will it do so? “We’ll see what time holds,” Maffei says. Read More »

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Liberty Media Says Revenues And Cash Flow Grew In Q1

Liberty Media is too important a company to ignore. But the Q1 earnings statement out this morning is a jumble after it spun off Starz and formally took control of Sirius XM. It reports net earnings of $8.1B, up from $151M in the quarter last year — almost all of the gains from transactions — on revenues of $789M, up 2,154%. Operating income, a more revealing measure in this case, came in at $160M, up from a $32M loss, while cash flow was +$288M to $271M. Basically the results reflect the generally upbeat Q1 performance of Sirius XM, which reported its results last month. In addition, Liberty says its holdings in Live Nation appreciated 35.2% since the end of 2012 to $668M, while its Barnes & Noble investment was +5% to $275M, and other investments were +7.5% to $887M. CEO Greg Maffei says that Liberty is “extremely pleased with the operating results of our newest subsidiary, Sirius XM, which grew its subscriber base to over 24M.” He adds that following Liberty’s May 1 acquisition of 27.3% in Charter Communications — giving it  four board seats there — “we look forward to working with [CEO] Tom Rutledge, his team, and our fellow board members.”

Related: Liberty Media CEO Foresees Cable Mergers But Remains Coy About Charter’s Plans

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Sirius XM Q1 Subscriptions Hit New Record As Jim Meyer Named CEO

By | Tuesday April 30, 2013 @ 4:38am PDT

Just so you’re not confused: Jim Meyer had been “interim” CEO beginning in December when Mel Karmazin left the top job at the satellite radio company controlled by Liberty Media. Now the job is formally his. The announcement comes as Sirius XM reported Q1 results that fell short of many analysts’ expectations. The company generated net income of $124.4M, +14.6% vs the period last year, on revenues of $897.4M, +11.5%. The Street thought that revenues would come in at $906M. And earnings at 2 cents per share were shy of forecasts for 3 cents. We’ll see whether investors are more worried about those misses than they are encouraged by the subscription numbers which were slightly ahead of forecasts. Sirius XM had 24.4M subs at the end of the quarter, up 9% vs a year ago. It also raised its free cash flow guidance and reiterated its projection to see total net subscriptions grow about 1.4M in 2013. “We continue to focus on profitable subscriber growth first and foremost,” Meyer says. “We are off to a great start for the year and are confident in achieving our guidance.”

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Court Kills Howard Stern’s Appeal In $300M Sirius XM Stock Bonuses Suit

By | Thursday April 11, 2013 @ 11:09am PDT

The New York Supreme Court today handed America’s Got Talent judge Howard Stern a further defeat in his multimillion-dollar suit against Sirius XM. “We agree with the motion court that plaintiffs are not entitled to additional performance-based compensation under the unambiguous agreement between plaintiffs and defendant’s predecessor, Sirius Satellite Radio Inc,” the First Appellate Division wrote today. Justices Rosalyn H. Richter, Angela M. Mazzarelli, Luis A. Gonzalez, Dianne T. Renwick and Judith J. Gische represented the appeals court panel. In a suit filed in March 2011, Stern’s company One Twelve and his agent Don Buchwald claimed that they were owed more than $300 million after Sirius exceeded subscriber targets following its merger with rival XM in 2008. Stern actually did get a $25 million bonus from the company as a result of the merger but he claimed he was expecting more. Judge Barbara Kapnick of the New York State Supreme Court tossed the suit last year on April 17. “Looking solely to the plain language used by the parties within the four corners of the agreement the disputed term “Sirius subscribers,” by which plaintiffs’ performance-based compensation was measured, did not include subscribers to XM Radio, a wholly owned subsidiary which defendant acquired by merger, even though the merger had been anticipated within the agreement,” added the judges today. Read More »

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Liberty Media CEO Says Deals May Make Sense For Sirius XM And Starz: Video

By | Thursday April 11, 2013 @ 9:02am PDT

Greg Maffei seems open to all kinds of possibilities for the properties his company controls. The newly anointed chairman of Sirius XM told CNBC’s David Faber today that Liberty “absolutely” might consider spinning off the satellite radio company, making it independent again. And he says that Starz is “on the right path” — but may benefit from an alliance with a bigger partner. He added in the wide-ranging conversation that it appears from sales at QVC that consumer spending became “surprisingly strong” beginning in February.

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Sirius XM Board Adds Discovery’s David Zaslav And John Malone’s Son, And Pays Mel Karmazin $11M

By | Wednesday April 10, 2013 @ 2:24pm PDT

Liberty Media Chairman John Malone‘s company controls Sirius XM, but he and Liberty General Counsel Charles Tanabe no longer want to sit on the satellite radio provider’s board, according to the company’s proxy filed at the SEC this afternoon. No problem: The replacements likely won’t lead a palace revolt. Discovery CEO David Zaslav pretty much owes his job to Malone, who controls about 29% of Discovery’s voting shares, and sits on its board. And Malone’s 42-year-old son, Evan, sits on Liberty’s board and lately has worked in engineering and real estate in Philadelphia where he also runs a wine bar. Aside from that news, the proxy offers the usual info about executive compensation — including the 2012 package for former CEO Mel Karmazin, who left in December. It includes $1.5M salary, and a $9.5M bonus. The total is 5.3 times more than the median for the other top execs, which would trigger alarm bells about Karmazin’s clout if he were still there. Shareholders at the May 21 annual meeting in New York will vote on an investor-submitted resolution that would require Sirius XM to regularly disclose a detailed succession plan. The board opposes the proposal, calling it “unnecessary.”

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Sirius XM Q4 Earnings Match Expectations But Revenues Come In Light

By | Tuesday February 5, 2013 @ 4:26am PST

Shares are down about 1.4% in pre-market trading although there are few surprises in the satellite radio company’s first earnings report with Liberty Media firmly in charge. Sirius XM reported Q4 net income of $156.2M, +119.0% vs the period last year, on revenues of $892.4M, +13.9%. Analysts thought revenues would come in higher, at $898.7M. But earnings at 2 cents a share were right on the money. Sirius XM had already announced in early January that it ended 2012 with a gain of 2M subscribers, for a total of about 19.6M self-paid, and a total paid sub base of 23.9M. The company says this morning that it expects to add 1.4M subscribers in 2013 and generate at least $3.7B in revenue. CEO Jim Meyer, who recently replaced Mel Karmazin, talks up Sirius XM’s planned personalized radio service, MySXM, which he says “is now in public beta testing and will be available to our Internet subscribers in the near future.” He adds that the company is “committed to ensuring Sirius XM’s long-term leadership in audio and data services, particularly in vehicles, and we will do that by continuing to innovate and improve our technology, programming, and customer care.”

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