Howard Stern to Abandon FM Radio

Signs Five-Year Deal with Sirius Satellite

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WASHINGTON ( -- Shock-jock Howard Stern today said he is taking his radio show off broadcast radio and moving to Sirius Satellite Radio starting Jan. 1, 2006.

Photo: AP
Howard Stern's agreement was hailed as a 'watershed event' for the Sirius Satellite company.

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Mr. Stern signed a five-year contract with the Sirius, a subscription-based digital-quality radio service that launched in August 2002. While Sirius' music channels have no advertising, other programs, including Mr. Stern's show, carry ads.

Joseph P. Clayton, Sirius' CEO, today said Mr. Stern will appear on a Howard Stern channel, which will have a yearly budget of $100 million. He said the channel will be part of its basic package, available to anyone who pays the $12.95 for Sirius.

'Watershed event'
Mr. Clayton called it the signing a "watershed event for the industry. It establishes [satellite radio] as the successor to FM, much as FM replaced AM."

Mr. Stern's popular show is carried by Viacom's Infinity Broadcasting and is heard by millions of listeners in 46 markets. Mr. Clayton said Sirius expects to generate 1 million new subscriptions as a result of Mr. Stern's move.

"He is the most valuable personality in radio today," he said.

Mr. Stern will get stock in the company as part of the deal and will share in revenues.

New fines
The announcement comes following the news that federal legislators are looking to dramatically increase fines for obscenity in the media. The legislation is expected to meet full congressional approval this week. The new provision would fine stations up to $500,000 per incident, up from the current $32,500.

Mr. Stern's famously foul-mouthed talk show has been a frequent target of the federal regulators, and has cost his employers millions of dollars in fines over the years. Clear Channel Communications, the nation's largest radio broadcaster, pulled the Howard Stern Show from its stations after being fined by the Federal Communications Commissions over indecency charges against Mr. Stern's show and others. Mr. Stern has been an outspoken critic of the FCC and its chairman, Michael Powell.

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