March 15, 2006
CORRECTED: Stern assails CBS chief on his own network
Please read in 14th paragraph ... debuts this week on
pay-TV service ... instead of ... debuts next week on pay-TV
By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Two months after jumping to
satellite radio, shock jock Howard Stern took his feud with his
former bosses to their own airwaves in a late-night TV rant
against CBS Corp. chief Leslie Moonves, calling him "one of the
biggest jerks on the planet."
Appearing Monday on CBS's "Late Show with David Letterman,"
Stern stepped up his recent campaign in the media to defend
himself against a breach-of-contract suit brought by CBS last
month seeking hundreds of millions of dollars from the ribald
What made Stern's latest diatribe so unusual was that it
was conducted on Moonves' own network during a celebrity guest
spot promoted by CBS for several days.
"I believe you are working presently for one of the biggest
jerks on the planet, Leslie Moonves," Stern told the "Late
Show" host. "He's a bully, Dave."
Letterman, who opened his show saying that Stern's absence
from commercial radio was "like having a loved one who's passed
away," came to Moonves' defense, crediting the network chief
with the recent ratings turnaround at CBS.
The CBS feud with Stern, who battled federal regulators for
years over broadcast decency standards, stems from his surprise
decision in October 2004 to leave the public airwaves and join
subscription-based Sirius Satellite Radio.
Landing a five-year compensation package at Sirius widely
valued at $500 million, Stern ended his run on CBS Radio in
December 2005 and debuted a month later on the freewheeling
world of satellite.
The suit claims Stern improperly used his waning 14 months
at CBS to promote his move to Sirius, driving up advance
subscriptions in exchange for hefty Sirius stock options under
a secret marketing pact while he was still under CBS contract.
Stern insists his deal with Sirius was entirely above
"There was no secret agreement, there was no secret
payouts. It was in every newspaper and I did nothing that (CBS)
didn't approve," he said, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the
slogan: "I Hate Les Moonves."
STERN APPEARANCE BOOSTS RATINGS
Stern called CBS's suit a frivolous action aimed at
distracting attention from the declining profits and
listenership suffered by CBS Radio since his exit. And he said
the legal dispute would only backfire.
"CBS, in their infinite wisdom, has put me back on the
front page of the news," Stern said. "It was a brilliant move
on their part. Everyone had just about forgotten about me, and
now here I am back again."
The appearance by Stern, a "Late Show" regular, proved to
be good for Letterman. According to preliminary figures from
Nielsen Media Research, household ratings for Stern's guest
spot were up 5 percent over his Letterman's Monday night
average so far this season.
CBS denied asking Letterman to reconsider Stern's latest
appearance, which was booked in January in connection with his
promotion of a televised version of his Sirius radio show that
debuts this week on pay-TV service In Demand Network.
"We did not stand in the way of Howard appearing on our
airwaves," the network said in a statement. "We believe his
appearance was his desperate attempt to distract attention from
the facts of the case."