New York — Sirius Satellite Radio’s chairman Joe Clayton, in his first interview since Mel Karmazin was announced as the new president/CEO, said he will continue with the company for another two years and that Karmazin will start his new job on Dec. 1.
Clayton told TWICE he will continue his tenure at Sirius with a focus on strategic issues and getting Sirius licensed for operations in Canada.
Analysts note that Karmazin’s background in radio, which relies on advertising, could signal a move to greater emphasis on advertising in satellite radio. Clayton affirmed, “As our subscription base builds, national advertisers are going to want to be on our service. Fifty-five of our channels do take advertising. You can certainly believe that the Howard Stern show will have advertising, and all our weather, news and sports.”
Vijay Jayant, cable and satellite analyst for Lehman Brothers, said both Sirius and satellite radio in general will gain credibility with Karmazin’s joining of Sirius. “Karmazin is credited with taking Infinity Broadcasting and Westwood One to leadership positions in the radio industry. As such, we believe this announcement enhances the credibility of the development-stage satellite radio business.”
Jayant added that Karmazin is known for developing strong sales organizations and establishing cost controls, and his “experience may improve programming placement and packaging.”
Clayton said the company, however, will continue to have a strong basis in its consumer electronics roots. “We do audio, obviously, but we’re going to go to video and customized data [and] navigation. We’re going to do security with features such as lock and unlocking your doors. So it’s not just about radio.”
Clayton said his accomplishments at Sirius over the past three years included turning around the company and commercializing it. “The founder David Margolis did a good job of getting the licenses, the satellites built and launched and putting the infrastructure in place. I basically commercialized the technology and turned around the situation, and it was a turnaround opportunity. I established the retail distribution portion of the business, solidified and expanded our automotive car manufacturer relationships, and started accelerating factory programs and also drove the technology in terms of the receivers themselves.
The Sirius chairman added, “All our IC development and receiver engineering is now in-house.We turned over three different generations of IC development in three years, and next year we feel we’ll be at parity with the competition and maybe move ahead with some features.”
For additional Sirius news from the past week please see: