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"Regarding XM... Would we like to buy them? Sure."
—-Mel Karmazin, Sirius Satellite Radio

SATELLITE OF LOVE?

Are Sirius and XM Ready to Kiss and Make Up a Single Entity?
When Sirius Satellite Radio boss Mel Karmazin said yesterday he would “love” to buy his larger rival, XM Satellite Radio, he finally admitted what many on Wall Street have been saying for several years: that the nation's two satellite radio companies might be better, to quote long-forgotten new wave group Romeo Void, if they slept together.

Karmazin’s comments sent shares in both companies soaring.

"Regarding XM... Would we like to buy them? Sure," Karmazin said at a conference in New York. "We'd love to buy them. Price would matter, so that would be an issue."

He also said regulatory concerns "would be a question mark."

Regulators might well approve such a deal if they considered the market for satellite radio alongside other portable music players, such as the iPod and MP3-playing cell phones.

The two rivals, which have been in an expensive competition for exclusive content deals, both lose considerable amounts of money.

Sirius paid Howard Stern a reported $600 million over five years and peeled $30 million for Martha Stewart, while XM shelled out $55 million for Oprah.

In the most recent fiscal year, XM's net loss was about $667 million, while Sirius lost $863 million.

Karmazin emphasized that Sirius' business plan "doesn't involve our doing a deal."

An XM spokesman said, "We do not comment on our competitor's wishful thinking."

In trading yesterday, XM finished up 91 cents, or 6.8 percent, at $14.37. Sirius stock closed up 23 cents, or 5.2 percent, at $4.70.

Still, both are off substantially on the year—Sirius by about 30 percent, and XM by 47 percent.

Former CBS and Viacom exec Karmazin joined Sirius almost two years ago after clashing with Viacom boss Sumner Redstone. Coincidentally, N.Y. Post's Page Six spotted him dining after his conference with Stern.

Earlier this year, sources have said, CBS considered XM as an acquisition target but never seriously pursued the company.

Sirius has about 4.1 million subscribers and XM has 6.5 million.

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