Thursday, November 30, 2006

Reuters Media Summit: Mel Says Sirius Not Reliant On Stern

Sirius not solely reliant on Stern: CEO
By Dane Hamilton, Nov 30

Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. doesn't rely wholly on Howard Stern, even though an estimated half of its 6 million listeners tune into the raunchy talk show personality, Chief Executive Officer Mel Karmazin said on Thursday.
Asked what would happen if Sirius lost Stern, Karmazin said the second-biggest satellite radio company has plenty of other programs, including a soon-to-be-launched 24-hour Catholic Church channel, a popular Martha Stewart show and a plethora of sports, news and other programs.
"How are we reliant (on Stern)?" Karmazin said at the Reuters Media Summit in New York. "I don't think we're reliant in any shape or form. We have 135 channels."
Still, Karmazin said demand for Stern is driving listeners to Sirius, which signed its first subscriber in 2002. The company expects to generate $1 billion in revenue next year and have 6.3 million subscribers by the end of 2006.
"There are a lot of people who like Howard and they tune in to Sirius," Karmazin said. But he also estimated that half of Sirius' customers do not tune into the controversial radio host, saying "There are many, many people who don't like Howard and they never touch the Howard Stern channel."
Sirius, which lags rival XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. in subscribers but continues to grow in an expanding satellite radio market, lured the top-rated shock jock from CBS Radio in 2004 after Stern's multiple brushes with federal decency standards.
In order to gain Stern's services, Sirius agreed to pay him about $500 million over five years. The contract was negotiated before Karmazin's time at Sirius.
"He gets paid a lot of money, just like I paid a lot of money for lots of talent over the years," said Karmazin. "I wish you could get the talent for less money. That would be really cool. But you just can't get it."
"I didn't do so well in getting paid," he said jokingly...read more: here

11/30/2006 03:46:00 PM

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