Clear Channel Sued for Dropping Stern Show

Action seeks $10M for alleged contract violation.

Two companies affiliated with the raunchy Howard Stern show today (June 30) filed a lawsuit seeking more than $10 million against Clear Channel Communications Inc. (CCC), accusing the nation's largest radio-station owner of breaking contracts to air the shock jock in six cities.

The move comes the same day Infinity Broadcasting Inc., said it would add the show at nine affiliate stations.

CCC, facing complaints from federal regulators for indecent antics of disc jockeys, dropped Stern in February from stations in Florida, California, Pennsylvania, New York and Kentucky.

The suit, filed in Manhattan federal court by two licensers of the program, said that CCC violated terms of the agreements to air the show in those markets. The complaint was filed by One Twelve Inc., which provides Stern's services, and Infinity Broadcasting East, the FCC licensee of WXRK, the New York radio station where the show is produced.

In the suit, Infinity and One Twelve accuse CCC of wrongfully failing to notify them that the show was being dropped as required by the contracts. They also charge that they are owed license fees.

The terms are contained in six license agreements for the stations dated between May 2001 and September 2002.

"Howard Stern is the only one who has broken the law," Andy Levin, CCC executive VP/chief legal officer, said in a statement. "His contract explicitly requires his show comply with all FCC rules and regulations. On several occasions, it clearly did not. Clear Channel Radio had both a legal right and an obligation to stop broadcasting it."

In June, CCC admitted to airing indecent material and agreed to pay a record $1.75 million penalty to settle all existing complaints.

The company also agreed to take steps to prevent further such incidents, including formalizing its "zero tolerance" policy and training employees.