Howard Stern to Broadcast on Sirius Radio in 2006 – Oct 6, 9:51 am ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Howard Stern, one of the most popular U.S. radio personalities, on Wednesday said he will broadcast his show on Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. beginning in 2006, after being dropped earlier this year from several stations that objected to his often off-color humor.
By luring Stern away from his current employer, Viacom Inc.’s Infinity Broadcasting, the deal gives a shot in the arm to satellite radio overall, a new business built on attracting subscribers to dozens of radio stations broadcast digitally.
It also gives Sirius, whose shares rose about 17 percent in early trading, a boost in its rivalry with its larger competitor XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. .
Sirius currently has more than 600,000 subscribers, a small amount compared to Stern’s current audience on broadcast radio, where he ranks No. 1 in 46 large markets across the country, including New York and Los Angeles.
But many analysts have said that a move to satellite radio gives Stern more freedom to broadcast his show.
Indecency on the airwaves became a national issue in January when Janet Jackson bared a breast during the National Football League’s Super Bowl half-time show.
Since then, Clear Channel Communications, which kicked Stern off six of its stations, was fined $1.75 million by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to settle all indecency complaints.
Sirius said it would need to add 1 million subscribers to cover the cost of the five-year deal. The company estimates total production and operating costs for the show to be about $100 million annually. XM shares fell nearly 3 percent in early trading.