US broadcasting provider Sirius Satellite Radio Inc has announced that its loss widened in the fourth quarter of 2003, despite adding 112,000 subscribers during the period. The New York-based company lost $147.8 million, compared with a loss of $122.1 million a year ago. This loss is greater than had been forecast. Revenue for the quarter increased to $4.95 million, up from $685,000. The company said it had 261,061 subscribers at the end of the year, representing a 74 percent jump from the third quarter and an eightfold increase from a year ago. Shares of Sirius shares on Nasdaq fell 5.4% on the news.
Meanwhile, rival satellite broadcaster XM has announced that it’s going commercial-free on its music channels as of Sunday, without raising the subscription price. Sirius had defended its higher subscription charges on the basis that it does not carrry advertising on its music channels, but that argument will no longer be valid. The competition between the two companies has clearly been turned up a notch.