Sirius XM Radio Inc's chief executive Mel Karmazin has approached DirecTV Group Inc and Liberty Media in an effort to fend off bankruptcy as well as a bid by EchoStar Corp's Charlie Ergen, media reports said.

The reports come as Sirius XM faces heavy debt payments ahead, and amid widespread views that a deal with Ergen is the most likely and preferable scenario for the satellite radio provider to avoid bankruptcy.

The New York Times reported that Sirius was in preliminary talks with media mogul John Malone's Liberty Media, while the New York Post said Karmazin asked DirecTV to buy it. Liberty Media controls DirecTV.

The Times, quoting people briefed on the negotiations, said it was not clear how advanced the talks between Sirius XM and Liberty were. The Post, quoting sources, said Karmazin prefers a deal with DirecTV, as merging with Ergen would force him to give up control.

DirecTV declined to comment, while Sirius XM and Liberty Media officials were not immediately available for comment.

Meanwhile, shock jock Howard Stern dismissed the financial troubles plaguing Sirius XM Radio Inc as "growing pains" and said he believes satellite radio will be a successful business.

Even as Sirius shares plunged to a historical low of 5.2 cents on Wednesday following media reports that the company is preparing for a possible bankruptcy filing, Stern -- whose team is paid $100 million a year by Sirius -- was unfazed.

"Everybody's wondering about this whole bankruptcy thing with Sirius," the self-proclaimed King of All Media said on his satellite radio program.

"I'm not concerned. I think satellite radio is great and will be a successful business and it will survive," he said.

Sirius has $175 million of convertible notes maturing on February 17, $350 million of secured bank debt due in May 2009, and $433 million in convertible notes due December. The credit squeeze is making it hard for Sirius to meet the obligations.

Stern said he tried to call Ergen himself, but never succeeded in talking with him. While noting that his knowledge was limited only to what he had read, Stern said he would not rule out a hostile takeover offer. "There's a game going on and it's for billions of dollars," he said.

"As long as someone is paying our salary, we're here and I believe we'll get paid and that satellite radio will be here," Stern said.

Many analysts have attributed Sirius' woes to expensive content deals with high-priced talent like Stern, as well as distribution deals with the now struggling auto industry to install satellite radios in cars.

With a bankruptcy filing, analysts said, Sirius could renegotiate deals with Stern and others like Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey and Major League Baseball.

"Bankruptcy allows you to renegotiate every contract," said RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank, but he expected Sirius would likely try to tweak revenue-sharing arrangements with automakers rather than with Stern.

"I think there wouldn't have been a Sirius without him. There is a legitimate question as to whether Sirius would have survived up until now without him," he said.

Stern's nationally syndicated radio show once drew about 12 million listeners, while analysts estimate his daily satellite audience to be about one million to 2 million.

A spokesman for Stern did not return calls. Stern himself did not mention his contract on his show.

"It's a very unusual business," he said of satellite radio. "It has something like 20 million people listening to it. There's a tremendous business ... Don't get fooled by what you read."

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