Reacts to rumors that CBS intends to sue him.
Howard Stern called a news conference in New York City Tuesday (Feb. 28) to express exasperation over what he termed “bullying” and “threatening” over the past few months by CBS, his former employer.
Sirius Satellite Radio’s marquee morning man said he was reacting to unsubstantiated reports that CBS intends to sue him, accusing CBS Corp. president/CEO Les Moonves of having a “personal vendetta” against him.
According to Stern, the yet-to-be-filed CBS lawsuit will allege that he “entered into a secret agreement with Sirius,” “entered into secret compensation,” “misused CBS airtime to promote Sirius,” “led them [CBS] into believing that I would be staying,” and that “I hurt CBS financially.”
Stern reiterated his own “public disclosure” regarding leaving CBS (formerly Infinity Broadcasting) as it appeared “in every newspaper and media outlet,” including the amount of his salary before he left the company last December. He also said that for the “past couple of years” he had been talking about leaving terrestrial for satellite.
Stern announced on October 6, 2004 that he would leave Infinity at the end of 2005 for Sirius and a five-year deal estimated to be worth $500 million.
“Les Moonves claims it was a secret,” Stern said. “How can there be a secret agreement if everybody in the world, including his own radio stations are broadcasting the deal?
“He put me on 60 Minutes, he put me on David Letterman,” Stern continued, “and Les says he didn’t know… How can that be?”
Stern also accused Moonves of not standing up to the FCC or Clear Channel and other companies that Stern said “owed” him money.
On February 25, 2004 Clear Channel Communications suspended Stern from the six stations it owned that carried him, after complaints were filed about a graphic discussion Stern aired with Paris Hilton's ex-boyfriend, Rick Salomon. On April 8, 2004 Clear Channel permanently took Stern off the air after receiving the company received a $500,000 fine from the FCC.
In addition, Stern recounted a meeting he had with CBS Radio chairman/CEO Joel Hollander to discuss how he would handle his exit on the air.
“I don’t want you to talk about satellite radio,” Stern claimed Hollander said. After further discussion Stern said Hollander relented and only asked that he didn’t refer to Sirius by name and that they agreed Stern would call it “eh, eh, eh,” which Stern said Hollander thought was “funny.”
Stern said he recently met with Moonves and Hollander to talk about what Stern perceived as “bullying” and “threatening” tactics he perceived and the specter of a lawsuit.
“I delivered the ratings, I delivered the goods, why are you picking on me? Why didn’t you stop me if you didn’t like what I was doing” Stern said he asked the CBS executives.
Moonves reply, according to Stern: “I’m the one who kept you on the air, and I knew I could sue you afterwards.”
CBS has not filed a suit against Stern and has declined comment on speculation that it would.