Primosphere Limited Partnership

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Primosphere Limited Partnership was one of four companies bidding for Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service, or SDARS, licenses in the United States. The service would have been an advertisement-supported digital audio service with an emphasis on serving music genres that had lost exposure in the terrestrial radio market during that period, such as classic jazz, "beautiful music," "pop standards," and swing music. Two dedicated public radio talk channels were also proposed along with traditional talk radio channels.

History[edit]

1990: Sirius Satellite Radio, known then as Satellite CD Radio, Inc., proposes the concept of a satellite-delivered digital radio service to the Federal Communications Commission.

1991: New Jersey radio station WPAT switches formats on both its AM and FM stations from "beautiful music" to "adult contemporary" removing a high-fidelity FM radio outlet for these formats in the New York metropolitan area.

1993: Popular music radio station WNEW in New York changes format from pop standards and swing music to business talk radio WBBR-AM. WQXR changes call letters to WQEW and format to pop standards and unsuccessfully attempts to capture the WNEW and WPAT listener diaspora.

1995 January: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sets aside 50 MHz (2310 MHz through 2360 MHz) in the S-band for Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service, also known as SDARS and now commonly known as Satellite Radio.[1]

1996: WPAT-FM switches from music to Spanish language "adult contemporary" format. Sister AM station WPAT switches to Mexican music format, then to Korean language, and eventually paid ethnic programming.

1996: Clifford Burnstein, resident of New York and a partner in entertainment industry company Q-Prime, along with Peter Mensch bids $68 million for an SDARS license through holding company Primosphere Limited Partnership with the stated intention of restoring music genres no longer available in major radio markets.[2]

1997 April: American Mobile Satellite Corporation and Satellite CD Radio, Inc. are each awarded SDARS licenses. The companies eventually become known XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio, respectively. Primosphere and Digital Satellite Broadcasting Corporation are denied licenses by becoming third and fourth lowest bidders, respectively, during the auction.[citation needed]

1997 October 27: The FCC formally dismisses Primosphere's and Digital Satellite Broadcasting Corporation's applications for an SDARS license.[3]

1997 November: Primosphere petitions the FCC to adopt foreign ownership restrictions for SDARS licensees in order to overturn both Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio's licenses. XM at the time had a 20% stake owned by foreign-owned WorldSpace Satellite Radio.[4]

1999 July: American Mobile Satellite buys the 20% share of XM Satellite Radio owned by the foreign-owned WorldSpace, effectively removing foreign ownership issues.

2001 March: Primosphere petitions the United States Court of Appeals to require the FCC to review its previous petition to require the FCC to adopt foreign ownership restrictions on SDARS licensees, now including just Sirius Satellite Radio.

2001 September 25: XM Satellite Radio officially launches.

2001 December: The company petitioned the FCC to reconsider its 1997 decision to dismiss the company's SDARS application. The FCC reaffirmed its decision and sealed the company's fate.[5]

2002 July 1: Sirius Satellite Radio officially launches after several technical and financial delays.[6]

2007 August 27: Primosphere files second comment concerning the merger of Sirius and XM Satellite Radio.[7]

Primosphere continued petitioning through 2004, when the company "submitted a motion to withdraw the Application for Review". But in February 2007, after the Sirius-XM merger announcement, "Primosphere decided to withdraw its withdrawal" because the FCC had not acted. The FCC had promised to "re-auction the [SDARS] license among the other existing applicants" if for any reason one of the other companies lost its license. Primosphere considered itself to be an applicant and requested half the S-band spectrum if the merger was approved. The company had already paid for launch fees for satellites, which would then be put in orbit, and Primosphere expected to have its service ready in five years, or sooner if Sirius-XM were to lease equipment for sending out their signals. In its FCC filing, Primosphere said, "A better way to avoid the anticompetitive effects of the proposed XM/Sirius merger would be to have a new competitor in the SDARS who could begin operating immediately."[8][9]

Burnstein and Mensch told Radio & Records that they wanted the FCC to act as originally planned: making sure the two license holders were separate. Burnstein believed the FCC was "uncomfortable with a single provider." He also pointed out that each of the four applicants paid $70,000, and Primosphere never had its deposit returned.

Burnstein said studios could be finished in six months. Primosphere would offer about 30 music channels, with advertising. The objective was "to serve the underserved."[10]

2009: Sirius/XM is required to lease 8% or 4 channels each to qualified groups as a condition of their merger. This could open the door to Primophere leasing channels on XM and on Sirius existing radios for free to consumers (supported by commercials).

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://dev.space.com/spacenews/archive95/sn1995.fff1476.html FCC sets aside spectrum for SDARS
  2. ^ http://www.observer.com/node/41262 Article about Primosphere L.P. that refers to its bid and XM/Sirius foreign ownership issues.
  3. ^ http://www.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Digest/1997/dd971028.html FCC Decision on Primosphere
  4. ^ http://sec.edgar-online.com/2001/03/30/0000950117-01-000648/Section2.asp Primosphere petitions for foreign ownership restrictions on SDARS licensees.
  5. ^ http://www.rwonline.com/dailynews/show_issue.cgi?year=2001&month=12&week=49 FCC Again Dismisses Primosphere
  6. ^ http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-7796382_ITM Sirius Delays Launch To Conserve Funds
  7. ^ http://siriusbuzz.com/primosphere-weighs-in-on-merger-again.php Primosphere weighs in on merger again (Siriusbuzz.com)
  8. ^ "Primosphere: The next satellite radio service?". orbitcast.com. 2007-07-11. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  9. ^ Stimson, Leslie (2007-09-12). "Primosphere Wants Back in Satellite Game". rwonline.com. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  10. ^ Saghir, Ryan (2008-05-07). "Report: Primosphere wants Sirius-XM spectrum; Forecasts 30 music channels". orbitcast.com. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 

See also[edit]