Why Did CBS Wait Until Now To Sue Howard Stern?

from the take-a-guess dept

The wires are buzzing with the story that CBS Radio is suing Howard Stern, his agent and Sirius Radio. The details backing up the lawsuit are questionable at best. They’re upset that Stern continuously promoted Sirius on the air for well over a year since he signed the agreement to move to the satellite radio system. The complaint is that he gave them free advertising. That may be true, but it seems a to be a bit late in the game to be complaining now. If they were so concerned about all this free advertising, why not just fire him when it was going on or sue him then? It seems likely that they didn’t bother because they were making so much money from his show. There are also some questions about the stock transactions involving Stern and Sirius — which again, may be accurate — but seem outside the scope of a lawsuit with CBS Radio. Shouldn’t it be the SEC that looks into such things? However, the real reason that CBS Radio may be doing this could be similar to yesterday’s bizarre lawsuit over the Da Vinci Code: to generate publicity. After all, Stern’s replacement in New York has apparently not been able to hold onto much of an audience.

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Comments on “Why Did CBS Wait Until Now To Sue Howard Stern?”

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tom says:

No Subject Given

well, he did, and it takes quite a long time to make sure you have all your facts straight before you create a lawsuit.

i personally don’t really care if howard moved to sat radio, and am a little skeptable about buying into the whole thing with the way XM is going. Public radio format is going to change very soon with the introduction of HD Radio, and will very closely make sat radio unnecessary. I can put up with the ads and not have to pay a monthly fee. oh, and morning shows are probably the hardest show to do and takes quite a lot of effort to start and get your listeners listening.

THOR says:

Re: Re: Re: No Subject Given

So why would “Hi Def” make that crap any better? The shows are self fulfilling garbage the same as Sterns show. Let?s not forget if any music is ever played it?s the same stuff hour after hour! XM is the way to go for what you want. Oh yeah and lets not forget about VHF/UHF TV. Where is that again?

I think I Squizz’d

P Ness says:

Re: Re: Re: No Subject Given

LOL another clueless noob.
its all marketing…read about it…its the same crap it just allows for digital streams of radio, and multiple streams from the same station.
YOU are also still going to have 10 minutes + of commercials..

Evan (user link) says:


Stern claims Les Moonves said outright that they let Stern talk about Sirius just so they could sue him, that way they could make a bunch of money on his last month of shows, then make more from suing him. Anyone who listened to Howard on terrestrial radio knew they needed little motive to dump Stern if he said anything close to what they didn’t like, and certainly could have stopped his Sirius talk if they wanted. Stern also thinks they waited until now to bring this up to take the focus off the fact that their new morning shows have terrible ratings.

what a load of s*!t says:

Get serious

If this is anything mroe than a publicity stunt than CBS is whacked in the head. First they could have and should have gone for a preliminary injunction at the time they first recognized the infractions. Next, they suspended Howard for a day which is already some form of punishment and because of this they cannot claim they did not know there was an impact until after he left. Since Howard’s ratings did not drop during his final months (they may have even increased) he fulfilled his contractual obligation to CBS and I suspect they even raised advertising rates for hsi last few shows. And finally, how can anyone determine on a talk show what is and is not advertising? Howard talked about many products he used during the talk segments is that free advertising? Is CBS suinghim for that? Of course nto since his contract probably allowed for him to determine the content so long as it was within FCC limits. Bottom line is CBS doesnt have a clue AND I think this will majorly backfire since it will drive those Howard fans that are currently on the fence about moving to satellite to make the switch.

David C says:

Re: Get serious

And if it *is* a publicity stunt, it’s an incredibly stupid one, because it helps Howard Stern, not CBS!

I can’t imagine how CBS could succeed here, given their gross failure to mitigate damages. Stern was quite obviously and openly using his CBS show as free advertising for his upcoming cable radio show for many months. It just shows how messed up CBS is that they didn’t just take him off the air then, but they were more concerned with eking out a few short-term dollars, I guess.

Tulio (user link) says:


The show is 100 times better than on regular radio.

They didn’t want to can Howard because it was in te contract to pay him if they fire him for breach of contract. They gave him warnings and he stopped saying the word satellite radio as requested, but said “uh huh huh” to signify Satellite radio.

They could not stop the callers from saying satellite radio, it was inevitable.

Regular radio even with HD will not be any better unless the FCC lets freedom of speech go on.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Stern

They could and did stop callers from talking about satellite radio. Many times a caller would begin talking about their new purchase of a satellite radio and suddenly there was a time warp to the end of the topic.

Either someone cut the broadcast while the caller was talking about it or there was a tear in space and time centralized entirely within the studio.

But yeah, I agree wholeheartedly with everything else you said.

Nipsey Russell says:


Howard definitely did promote sirius while on the radio (and for some reason still spends half his show promoting sirius, which is why i wont pay $13/month!), but this is bogus because they had guy whose whole job was to dump out (eg beep) anything he said that was “obscene” due to the fcc arrangement they had. Thus, they could, and did, “delete” many things he said from the air. As far as I’m concerned, this means that they had full control over what went out over the air regardless of what Stern said or did. As such, they can sue themselves for writing the dump policy or “Dead Air Dave” who ran the dump button

Corey says:

Full Disclosure

Viacom does have a reason to sue Stern. In the radio business you have to give your employer first right of refusal. Stern didn’t do that, he blindsided Viacom (and his staff) with an on-air announcement.
He also didn’t disclose the full terms of his agreement. Yes, everyone knew about the $500M over 5 years, no one knew about the 32M shares of stock he would receive if Sirius reached certain subscriber goals. Knowing he stood to make $100M-$200M if he brought in enough subscribers surely changed his on-air behavior. If you listened to the show at all the final 14 months were pretty much filled with references to Sirius, subtle or otherwise.

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