Sirius XM prices up as debt looms

Sirius XM Radio Inc plans to increase prices for subscribers with multiple accounts and begin to charge for its online music feed. While it is keeping its core rates unchanged — a condition to which Sirius and XM Satellite Radio agreed last year in order to close their merger — the move could anger subscribers still raw from a series of programming changes enacted in November.

Starting in March users with more than one account will pay about $9 for additional accounts, up from about $7. Users will be able to defer the increases if they sign up for a long-term annual contract extension, or pay up to $500 for a lifetime subscription, representatives said. They added that there is no plan to change the standard monthly subscription price.

Sirius agreed with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to not raise for three years the retail prices on its basic $13 per month subscription package, and other programming packages such as a la carte; “best of both”; its news, sports, and talk package; and a discounted family-friendly programming package.

Increased revenue derived from the new charges and long-term commitments would come at a crucial time for Sirius XM, which entered the year with about $1 billion in debt due to mature in 2009.

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