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A Shock Suit

Phil Harvey
3/17/2006

4:15 PM -- Howard Stern makes a shocking salary.

And it was a well guarded secret until CBS Radio, his former employer, sued him a few weeks ago.

Click right here for the 43-page PDF file that reveals Stern's earnings over the past 20 years.

Some highlights: According to the complaint filed by CBS, and obtained by The Philter, Stern worked for CBS from 1985 until 2005. His base salary in 1985 was $705,000 and jumped to "over $15 million" in 2005. Stern's company, One Twelve, booked an additional "$8.4 million" in syndication licensing fees in 2005 from CBS Radio affiliates, the complaint says.

In its suit, CBS is accusing Stern of "multiple breaches of contract, fraud, unjust enrichment, and misappropriation of CBS Radio's broadcast time. It further seeks damages from Sirius Satellite Radio, Inc. for unfair competition and tortious [sic] interference with Stern's CBS contract."

Tortious interference? Doesn't the FCC ban language like that?

My opinion: In a way, this is testament to the fact that satellite radio is quickly becoming a part of mainstream entertainment. CBS Radio has to be going out of its mind after losing its highest-grossing (and most gross?) entertainer to a competing service that is, in all ways, a superior product to traditional terrestrial radio.

Even in the unlikely even that CBS prevails, its business is forever changed. The company is losing listeners by the hour, and kicking Stern in the wallet won't stop that madness. Even without Stern's program on Sirius, commercial-free radio is a music lover's dream.

Still, the size of the paycheck Stern pulled before and after his flight to satellite does make an important point about the networks, technologies, and other stuff we cover: Content is king, and a new technology like satellite radio, IPTV, or mobile video will only be as popular as the content it delivers.

— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

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