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Clear Channel to Stop Airing Stern Show

Times Staff Writer

Shock jock Howard Stern, a regular player in the ongoing debate over decency standards on radio, drew fire Wednesday as the nation’s largest radio chain dropped him from the handful of its stations that had carried him.

Clear Channel Communications Inc., a day before the chief executive of its radio unit was scheduled to testify at a congressional hearing on broadcast decency, said it would stop airing Stern’s show on six stations in smaller markets.

The move came just hours after Clear Channel instituted a zero-tolerance policy toward profanity and sexual content in its programming.

In dropping Stern, Clear Channel cited the shock jock’s frank discussion with hotel heiress Paris Hilton’s partner in her widely distributed sex tape.

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“Clear Channel drew a line in the sand today with regard to protecting our listeners from indecent content and Howard Stern’s show blew right through it,” Clear Channel Radio President John Hogan said in a statement Wednesday.

Stern couldn’t be reached for comment.

The Stern show, one of radio’s most popular, is broadcast by Infinity Radio, a division of Viacom Inc. The suspension appears unlikely to have an immediate effect on the program, which is widely aired by Infinity-owned stations.

Despite the Clear Channel move, Infinity gave no indication that it planned action against Stern, its biggest star. Viacom executives declined to comment.

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The decency debate, simmering for more than a year, boiled over on Jan. 31 when singer Janet Jackson exposed her breast in a halftime performance at the Super Bowl.

Clear Channel said it would not air Stern on its stations until it was assured that the show “will conform to acceptable standards of responsible broadcasting.”

The company’s executives specifically objected to Stern’s interview Tuesday with Rick Solomon, Hilton’s former boyfriend, who filmed them having sex.


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