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Liberty: Sirius Can Grow Even In Car Slump

New York — Sirius XM can prosper even if car sales sink to less than 10 million a year, said Liberty CEO and president Greg Maffei in an interview with CNBC yesterday, although the Liberty executive said the satellite-radio company may need to look beyond the car market for growth.

Liberty recently acquired a 40 percent stake in the Sirius XM through a $530 million cash infusion.

Maffei said some satellite-radio channels might be offered for free on iPods and MP3 players. “All radios could become satellite radios. The fact that you could have a certain amount of satellite radio which was free, available to all, not necessarily premium … in fact you could imagine devices like iPods or other MP3 players having satellite radio as an option. All of those create a host of opportunities,” he said. It is unclear if these give away channels would include advertising.

Maffei also said Liberty plans to back Sirius XM for the long haul and said Liberty will work with the satellite-radio company to help it extend its next round of debt of which comes due in May 2010.

He said, “Even if there’s a 9 or 10 million car market, we think Sirius XM can prosper and succeed and grow its way out of its debt and become an attractive business.” He added, “I think we’re committed to making Sirius XM work.”

Sirius XM released fourth-quarter earnings today that showed a net gain of only 82,945 subscribers in the fourth quarter and a loss of 131,000 subscribers for the quarter at retail. The company reached a total of 19 million subscribers as of Dec. 31, 2008.

Sirius XM will hold a conference call with analysts tomorrow.