Karmazin Visits Stern Show & CNBC
December 13, 2005 at 8:21 AM (PT)
HOWARD STERN's farewell shows have been bringing figures from the show's past to "say goodbye" to terrestrial radio, but TUESDAY's guest was someone who'd only been on the show once before: SIRIUS SATELLITE RADIO CEO and former INFINITY boss MEL KARMAZIN.
KARMAZIN, making his first appearance on STERN's show since STERN signed a contract "two contracts ago," accepted STERN's praise and discussed how "the easiest decision" he had made was to sign STERN 20 years ago for WXRK (92.3 K-ROCK)/NEW YORK after STERN had been fired at crosstown WNBC-A. STERN remembered that WNBC offered to pay him a $50,000. bonus if he would spurn KARMAZIN's offer and take one from KLOS/LOS ANGELES instead.
I've always been proud of you
"I've always been proud of you," KARMAZIN told STERN, adding that the most disappointing thing in his career was being forced to make a "voluntary" payment to the FCC to settle indecency fines proposed against INFINITY in order to get station purchases through the Commission; the two will be working together at SIRIUS starting in JANUARY.
Later on in the afternoon, KARMAZIN appeared on "Powerlunch" for an interview with co-host BILL GRIFFETH. Some of the highlights:
In the wake of BANK OF AMERICA downgrading SIRIUS stock to a "sell" today, KARMAZIN was asked how the company would define success at SIRIUS after STERN arrives on 1/9/06: "HOWARD clearly has already paid for himself. The analyst in question, prior to HOWARD coming on board, estimated that we would only have about 2 million subscribers in 2005, and something like 3 and a half million subscribers in 2006. We haven’t given our guidance yet, for 2006, but the general consensus is that we will have 6 million or more subscribers by the end of 2006. This clearly demonstrates that we have gotten the number of subscribers that we need to make this deal profitable for our company."
KARMAZIN on STERN possibly tarninishing the image of the company in light of FCC's recent efforts pressuring cable televition to develop a "Family Tier" of programming options: "The image of our brand is that it’s all about choice. We have 125 channels. HOWARD is on two of them. We also have ESPN, C-SPAN, RADIO DISNEY, all kinds of sports; if HOWARD is going to say something that offends somebody, we would tell the people they shouldn’t listen to it. We also make it very clear that we have a family plan. What the FCC is looking for in cable, we already have. We can take our more ‘out there’ channels and not make them available on your receiver at all.
"We also don’t believe that the only content that should be available to adults is content suitable to kids. We do believe that adults should have the opportunity to listen to the content, and that’s what HOWARD does. He’s an entertainer. He’s on for five hours a day every day. He’s been on for 20 years. He’s the single biggest radio personality in the history of radio."
Additionally, KARMAZIN characterized the $2.5 million in fines paid to the FCC years ago as "peanuts," saying that he was willing to pay INFINITY more money than that to buy advertising on their stations to promote STERN’s move to SIRIUS, but that INFINITY wouldn’t take the dollars.