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"From the outset, I believe all of us have been deeply upset and revulsed by the statements that were made on our air about the young women who represented Rutgers University in the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship with such class, energy and talent," Les Moonves, president-CEO of CBS, said in a statement.
"Those who have spoken with us the last few days represent people of goodwill from all segments of our society -- all races, economic groups, men and women alike," the statement continued. "In our meetings with concerned groups, there has been much discussion of the effect language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color trying to make their way in this society. That consideration has weighed most heavily on our minds as we made our decision, as have the many e-mails, phone calls and personal discussions we have had with our colleagues across the CBS corporation and our many other constituencies."
Up to $20 million in revenue
According to Arbitron, 1.6 million people aged 12 and older listened to "Imus in the Morning" for at least five minutes of the Monday-through-Friday, 6 a.m.-to-10 a.m. daypart in the fall of 2006. The show was carried on 61 stations across the U.S. and distributed over the Westwood One radio network. News reports have estimated "Imus in the Morning" is worth between $15 million and $20 million in annual revenue to CBS, which owns Imus' home radio station, WFAN-AM, and manages Westwood One.
CBS's cancellation comes one day after MSNBC pulled the plug on its simulcast of the show. Major advertisers such as Procter & Gamble, Sprint and Verizon had pulled their advertising from MSNBC to avoid appearing during the shock jock's show.
Consistent runner-up for MSNBC
"Imus in the Morning" was one of MSNBC's more high-profile offerings but was a consistent runner-up in the ratings race with CNN in its 6 a.m.-to-9 a.m. weekday timeslot, where it attracted 271,000 households compared with CNN's 374,000. The show's advertisers accounted for about 8% of MSNBC's revenue. The top spender, General Motors, spent $691,000 on the show in 2006, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
Mr. Moonves said in the statement: "I want to thank all those who came to see us to express their views. We are now presented with a significant opportunity to expand on our record on issues of diversity, race and gender. We intend to seize that opportunity as we move forward together."