In an interview in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal, Viacom chief Mel Karmazin reaffirmed his support for Infinity morning man Howard Stern and took a thinly veiled shot at Clear Channel for suspending Stern in six markets.
Karmazin was asked if he'd extend Howard Stern's contract if it was up for renewal right now, in light of all the indecency pressure the company finds itself under. His reply? "Howard has two more years left under his contract. If he was interested in renewing today, I would renew it today.
"You know, I think he has been a target," Karmazin continued. "If you think about what happened, it was that Janet Jackson happened. I get subpoenaed. They now talk about radio as well as that. Another company canceled Howard's show for no reason other than that they were going to Washington to testify and just didn't seem to have the courage to stand up for programming that they aired. And we absolutely stand up for what Howard is doing."
Karmzin, however, made it clear that his company doesn't want to cross the indecency line. "I don't believe anybody wants to cross over the line," he said. "Viacom certainly doesn't want to. Don't believe any advertiser would want to cross over the line. Don't believe there is an advantage to broadcasting material over the line."