XM Launches POTUS '08

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XM Radio has launched a free channel devoted to the presidential election in an alliance with C-SPAN, the cable-backed public affairs channel.

The candidate-friendly announcement comes as XM and Sirius are trying to get Washington policymakers to sign off on their planned merger.

The channel, POTUS '08, named after the Secret Service code name for "President of the U.S.," will be free to anyone with an XM receiver, even if they don't buy the service though that seems a fairly unlikely scenario.

POTUS '08 will feature candidate interviews, speeches, debate coverage, the latest polling results, and call-in shows. It will also tap C-SPAN's archives for some seminal moments from campaigns past.

XM says it will preview the channel next month--it formally launches in September--with original programing and a rebroadcast of CNN debate coverage. CNN has said it will make all its debate footage available to other users following requests for open access to footage from media activists, bloggers, and some major candidates. NPR has also said it will lift restrictions on its coverage so that it can be used freely on the Web and elsewhere.

Elsewhere on the XM/Sirius merger front, the proposed deal, which the FCC is currently reviewing, has gotten the OK from the National Black Chamber of Commerce, which says that the companies have promised more opportunities for African American programmers and already offer dozens of channels and argue that the combined company will offer even more, and at lower prices.

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