LAS VEGAS -- Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. said Wednesday that it is planning a children's video service for cars in 2006, a year later than it had expected, using software from Microsoft Corp.
Sirius, which provides subscription-based satellite radio services for a monthly fee, said last year it would offer video services by mid-2005. Spokesman Jim Collins said timing depended on automakers rather than Sirius' capability.
"All of our partners have expressed an interest," said Collins. "The timing of the service is dependent on when our automotive partners are ready."
He did not disclose specific agreements but noted that Ford Motor Co. had demonstrated Sirius' video technology in some Lincoln Mercury models at car shows. Collins said video was not part of Ford's agreement to offer Sirius in up to 1 million cars in two years beginning this summer.
Separately, Comcast Corp. said Wednesday it plans to explore ways with mobile electronics maker Delphi Corp. to send video programming to cars, potentially pitting the top U.S. cable company against Sirius and its bigger rival, XM Satellite Radio in a new battleground for digital entertainment.
The Federal Communications Commission said it would look into the concept of satellite radio companies providing video, but Sirius said it is not aware of any regulatory issues surrounding its video plans.
Sirius said it is planning two to three video channels with programming aimed at children. At a press conference in Las Vegas, Sirius Chairman Joseph Clayton said the service would debut "late summer 2006," adding that customers would likely pay an additional fee for video.
XM Satellite Radio will show satellite video demonstrations at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week but has no plans for a service.
XM Chief Executive Hugh Panero said that the notion of satellite video in cars is intriguing, but that the company was still pondering the viability as a business given the tiny number of cars with screens.
"We have the capability to do video; it is really not beyond our technological reach," he told Reuters at the conference. "When we are ready to announce a product, we will."
Collins said the company is focused mainly on video for cars, but Sirius and Microsoft plan to collaborate further on video for computers and home entertainment devices.
The satellite radio company's former chief executive, Joseph Clayton, said in May that Sirius would introduce four and possibly as many as eight video channels for children riding in the back seats of cars.
Sirius lags XM in subscriber numbers but attracted widespread attention last year after it signed a deal with controversial radio show host Howard Stern and made media veteran Mel Karmazin its CEO.
At the conference, Karmazin repeated the company's forecast that it would double its subscribers next year and take market share from XM.