XM Radio to Launch Election 2008 Station for Political Junkies

The candidates are not alone in getting an early start on the 2008 presidential campaign.

XM Satellite Radio (XMSR) announced plans Monday to launch a station devoted completely to coverage of the 2008 election. Dubbed "POTUS '08," the station will debut next month with a sort of sneak preview format that will include original programming as well as rebroadcasts of candidate debates. The station will formally launch in September and remain in place through November 2008.

The station will be available to anyone with an XM radio, even if their subscription has lapsed.

Among other programming, the channel plans to provide free air time to candidates wishing to speak directly to voters.

Call-in shows, archival audio from historic moments in past campaigns and candidate interviews are also expected to air on the station, which will run commercial free, 24 hours a day. Public affairs network C-SPAN will partner with Washington-based XM to provide additional programming.

XM Chief Executive Hugh Panero said in a statement that he views the channel as "a public service opportunity" that will remain politically neutral.

XM and its satellite radio competitor, Sirius Satellite Radio, are currently seeking regulatory approval for an acquisition by Sirius that would merge the two companies.

XM frequently launches "microchannels" on its network that remain place for a period of weeks or months to cater to seasonal events or breaking news.