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Howard Stern in Florida fight
In a novel twist, the morning radio host pulls himself off the air.
April 7, 2005: 9:59 AM EDT
By Krysten Crawford, CNN/Money staff writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - A battle between Howard Stern and a southeast radio station owner heated up this week as the shock jock pulled his morning show off a Florida station.

The decision by Stern not to renew a contract to air his talk show on a Fort Myers station owned by Beasley Broadcast Group was a strange turn for Stern and his battles with radio station owners over his often raunchy broadcasts.

Stern, who is scheduled to leave AM-FM radio at the end of this year and move to subscription-based satellite radio, said he yanked "The Howard Stern Show" from the Beasley station on Wednesday when his agent contacted him about renewing an expiring deal.

Stern said he was willing to go along until his agent reminded him that Beasley (Research) had earlier pulled him off the air in Miami because of its concerns over possibly indecent material.

Stern said that Beasley hasn't paid him under terms of his contract with the Miami AM station. Stern suggested it was hypocritical of Beasley to air him in one market and not another if the core issue is about obscenity.

"You've got to be kidding me," Stern said. "How am I indecent in Miami, but I'm not indecent in (Fort Myers)?"

For the last year Stern has found himself on the defensive as radio station operators, including Clear Channel Communications (Research) and Citadel Broadcasting Corporation (Research), have cancelled his highly-rated show in the face of a government crackdown on programming on public airwaves that is deemed indecent.

Stern cited the government campaign last fall when he announced a five-year, $500 million deal to move exclusively to Sirius Satellite Radio (Research), one of two satellite radio operators. Unlike public broadcasts, satellite and cable programming are not subject to federal indecency rules.

On Thursday, Stern reiterated that he is fed up with the current climate and implored Infinity Broadcasting, his current Viacom-owned employer and the country's No. 2 radio operator behind Clear Channel, to release him from his contract before its December 2005 expiration.

"Get rid of me now," said Stern. "Take me off the air." Stern acknowledged, however, that Infinity might be reluctant to give up his show's hefty advertising revenues at a time when Viacom (Research) and other AM-FM radio operators are struggling to compete with newer satellite and Internet radio services.

What's more, satellite may not be such a safe haven for Stern for long.

Some legislators in Congress are pushing legislation that would extend indecency rules to cable and satellite operators.

Earlier this week newly-installed Federal Communications Commission chief Kevin Martin, speaking at a cable industry conference in San Francisco, warned satellite and cable operators to avoid greater government scrutiny by self-policing their content.  Top of page


Howard Stern
Beasley Broadcast Group Incorporated
Sirius Satellite Radio Incorporated
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