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Published:March 2nd, 2006 09:57 EST
War Of The Radio Worlds:  Stern Sued By CBS

War Of The Radio Worlds: Stern Sued By CBS

By Maria Grella

Howard Stern is being sued by former employer CBS for breach of contract.  The lawsuit, which also names Stern’s agent, Don Buchwald, and new employer, Sirius Satellite Radio in the complaint, states that Howard had improperly used airtime while still on CBS to promote his new show with Sirius.  CBS claims that Stern had discussed his plans to do so with Sirius without disclosing them to CBS as required under his contract. 


CBS radio, formerly known as Infinity Broadcasting until the split from Viacom, seeks reimbursement from Sirius and Buchwald for the promotion of Sirius on the air, including the value of Sirius shares that Stern and his agent received for exceeding their target number of subscribers in 2005.  Those 34.4 million shares were worth $100 million upon the initial announcement of Stern’s move in 2004, but have increased to $200 million by the time
Stern received them in 2006.  While Sirius has yet to comment, their high paid broadcaster had plenty to say.


Before the lawsuit was filed, Page 6’s gossip column in The New York Post had an item about the upcoming legal trouble.  As a proactive move,
Stern arranged an impromptu news conference where he let loose with his golden tongue.  He called CBS CEO Les Moonves and President of CBS Radio Joel Hollander “two stooges” and said he will not be bullied or threatened by them. 


Howard called the lawsuit “a personal vendetta” against him, despite being a valued asset to CBS, helping to reel in the ratings, and advertising money.  He went on to say he was angry and offended at the situation; along with self-promotion for his new show, he had acted as a puppet of sorts by giving interviews on CBS shows 60 Minutes and David Letterman months before he left CBS, bringing in high ratings to both CBS radio and CBS television. 


He continued to say that the two heads of the company are “floundering” with a sharp decrease in ratings since Stern left and called Les Moonves a “star hefer”, meaning he hired big celebrity names to draw in audiences, (David Lee Roth and Adam Corolla), a move that hasn’t worked. 
Stern further attacked Moonves, saying he is not someone who can run a radio business and predicted that he will run CBS radio into the ground.


Howard called the lawsuit “ridiculous” and an “intimidation practice” based in “unfounded claims”.  He quickly went through the points in the suit.  The entering into a secret compensation with Sirius was outlandish, as all the media outlets had publicly disclosed the terms of his new contract.  Newspapers, radio and TV interviews were talking of Stern’s Sirius deal so it was not a secret; he then threw in a jab at the terrible ratings drop by saying that like everybody else, Moonves is not listening to his own radio stations.  Stern then claimed that he had a discussion with Hollander about talking of Sirius on the air while still at CBS radio, where he was given permission to give his opinions on satellite radio, but not to use the brand name Sirius.  Stern also mentioned that his show had a delay and numerous dump buttons, which were never once used while on the Sirius topic.


Regarding misleading CBS into staying on terrestrial air, Stern spoke openly for his dislike of the FCC and his new adventure into satellite. 


He referred to the ‘wag the dog’ analogy, saying Moonves and Hollander were trying to distract the public from their strong ratings decrease by suing
HowardStern insisted that he has built a career on being honest with his audience and being an honest businessperson, which is why he held the conference to get his side told.  He ended with re-asserting that he will not be bullied or intimidated.