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Sirius, XM take rivalry to Canada
Companies granted broadcast licenses; now they must address Canadian content standards.
June 17, 2005: 8:54 AM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Canada has granted broadcasting licenses to satellite radio rivals Sirius and XM Radio that carry strict stipulations about including Canadian content.

Broadcasting regulator Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said Thursday that Sirius (up $0.08 to $5.99, Research) and XM's (up $0.85 to $33.83, Research) Canadian partner Canadian Satellite Radio, could operate north of the border provided they include more Canadian programming.

The CRTC also approved a proposal from pay-radio operators CHUM, based in Toronto, and Astral Media, based in Montreal.

"These decisions foster the objectives of the Broadcasting Act and balance the interests of Canadian consumers, the radio industry and the music industry," CRTC Chairman Charles Dalfen said in a statement.

Sirius responded to the news by saying that it recognized the CRTC's effort to create "a reasonable and creative framework" for the company to provide programming in Canada, but would have to explore the conditions of the license in more detail with its business partners.

"(Sirius) will be able to comment further once a thorough analysis of today's decision has been made," Sirius said in a statement.

Included in the Canadian content standards, the commission is requiring that satellite radio operators offer at least eight original channels produced in Canada and that at least 85 percent of the musical selections and spoken word programming broadcast on the Canadian channels must be Canadian.

At least 25 percent of the Canadian channels must be in French and at least 25 percent of the musical selections channels must be new Canadian music.

The licensees must also contribute at least 5 percent of their gross annual revenues to initiatives for the development of Canadian talent.

"Through our strong partnership with CSR, XM will have an opportunity to expand the XM service beyond the United States and serve millions of Canadians with compelling Canadian and American programming." Hugh Panero, XM President & CEO, said in a statement.

"XM currently features a wide range of Canadian artists, and our partnership with CSR offers a unique opportunity to expand the reach of Canadian music and culture in Canada and in the United States," he added.

XM said it will work together with CSR to address the differences between the Canadian content standards described in the broadcasting license and what was proposed in its license application.

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