After weeks of hemming and hawing, Sirius XM and Howard Stern have struck a deal to extend the shock jock's tenure at the satellite broadcaster for another five years. Terms of the contract have not been disclosed. One sticking point in contract talks had been the timing and number of shows he would do.
The agreement securing one the nation's best-known on-air personalities should allow Sirius XM to avoid potential subscriber losses, which some analysts warned might follow if Stern left.
Sirius XM CEO Mel Karmazin stated: "Our agreement is good news on all fronts. It is good for Sirius XM subscribers and good for Sirius XM stockholders." Karmazin praised the controversial figure as someone who had "forever changed radio and was instrumental in putting Sirius on the map when he first launched on satellite radio. He is one of the few 'one-name' entertainers in the country and our 20 million subscribers are lucky to have him."
Recent months saw speculation that Stern might leave Sirius XM; analysts noted that he could reach a broader audience by returning to traditional broadcast radio. This week brought a bizarre rumor that he might leave the satcaster for Apple iTunes. Analysts also speculated that Karmazin and other Sirius XM executives were hesitant to shell out hundreds of millions to renew Stern's record-setting $500 million deal, originally signed in 2005.
Although terms of the new deal were not disclosed, last week Stern made it clear that he wouldn't accept any reduction under the terms of a new contract, stating emphatically on the air that "I'm not taking a f------ pay cut" in response to ambiguous public remarks by Sirius XM CFO David Frear.
Stern later retracted his comments, lambasting Frear on-air, saying the press had misrepresented the executive's remarks, and adding: "David Frear is OK with me."
Stern has occasionally used his radio pulpit to update listeners on his plans and the state of negotiations with Sirius XM, giving the process an unusual public dimension in keeping with his own oversized celebrity.