Now this is ridiculous.
I awoke this morning to news that CBS is suing Howard Stern for $218 million for fraud and breach of contract. CBS contends that Stern improperly used the company’s airwaves to promote his move to Sirius Satellite Radio.
After Stern announced that he’d be leaving to go to Sirius, I often complained that his show had turned into a commercial for Sirius. But CBS had the power to stop Stern from talking about Sirius……and they did!
In November 2005, Stern was suspended for one day for mentioning Sirius too much. They had the option to suspend him whenever they wanted for talking too much about his move, but they only did that once. Why? Even though he was promoting his move, he was making them money!
If CBS really wanted Stern to shut up about Sirius, they could have easily done it. But after the fact? It makes no sense to me. The whole idea of a lawsuit at this point feels like an act of desperation. Everyone on earth knew that Howard Stern was moving to Sirius radio, and people tuned in to listen to him talk about it. That, in turn, led to even better ratings for the stations, boosting their ad profits.
But now, with David Lee Roth sending listeners away in droves, CBS radio is falling fast. Rather than trying to develop new talent or new ideas, they’re trying to recoup some losses by suing Stern? I don’t see that as a very good long term strategy.
Prediction: This will be good for Stern. For him to thrive, he needs an enemy, and without the FCC he doesn’t have a fight. CBS was complaining that Stern was getting too much free publicity for moving to a competitor. Their solution: let’s sue him, thereby giving Sirius Satellite radio the kind of promotion that money can’t buy. Let’s put his name and his company in news stories in every media outlet known to man.
Great move, CBS.