The second largest US satellite radio company, Sirius, has posted a smaller third-quarter loss but signed on fewer new customers than expected and cut its 2003 targets, Reuters reported.

The provider of advertising-free music channels and sports, news and talk shows also said costs rose due to payments for components but one analyst told Reuters she believed this news was partly offset by commitments from DaimlerChrysler.

"There was incremental positive news ... despite the shortfall," Janco Partners analyst April Horace told Reuters, noting the vehicle maker's decision to give 2004 Dodge Durango dealers the option of having Sirius radios installed in the factory.

But, Reuters said, Horace was disappointed Sirius signed up 15,000 fewer customers than she expected and cut its 2003 forecasts to more than 200,000 total subscribers at year-end, from its earlier target of 300,000 new customers, excluding customer turnover.

Reuters said Sirius, which trails market leader XM, also missed at least two more analyst estimates for the third quarter with its roughly 44,000 new subscribers in the period, bringing its total to 149,612.

Reuters noted that XM said this week it has more than a million customers and still expects 1.2 million subscribers by the end of the year.

Sirius chief financial officer David Frear told Reuters in a telephone interview the company changed the target because it had no reference point for its first holiday retail season.

According to Reuters, Sirius posted a loss of $US106.7 million, or 11 cents a share, compared with a loss of $119.7 million, or $1.56 a share, in the year-ago quarter, while revenue rose to $4.3 million from $17,000 a year earlier.