Following a week's vacation, Howard Stern returned to the air this morning for his first live show since last week's latest FCC Notice of Apparent Liability for an April 9, 2003 broadcast. Stern spelled out three possible scenarios for his future, including: 1) Viacom won't be able to take the pressure and will eventually dump him. 2) Indecency legislation, which is currently being fast tracked, passes and Stern will pull himself off the air because, "I can’t take the pressure of being personally fined." 3) He stays on the air and the show gets watered down to fit what the government wants. Stern also said that even though Mel Karmazin and Viacomare "100% behind me," he will be taken off the air, since "No company can stand up to this kind of pressure."
While picking one of the above three options doesn't appear imminent, Stern continues to broadcast and respond to his would-be oppressors. This morning he posted an August 18, 2003 letter from Clear Channel that defended The Howard Stern Show (HSS) in the context of a response to an FCC letter of inquiry about the April 9 show -- the same broadcast that resulted in Clear Channel permanently dismissing Stern last week.
In the letter, signed by Clear Channel Vice President Richard Wolf, the company says, "Assuming that the HSS aired the exact material transcribed in Attachment A, nothing contained therein is actionably indecent under the Commission's established policies concerning broadcast indecency."
At one point while making its case, Clear Channel contends the material doesn't violate community standards. "Although the material in Attachment A begins in the middle of a conversation that contains a few highly edited references to anal sex, which some might find to be distasteful or offensive, these references and phrases alone do not make the broadcast indecent. This discussion neither dwells on, nor repeats at length, descriptions of sexual or excretory activities. Nor is the material presented in a pandering or titillating manner and it has little shock value given contemporary community standards."
The six-page letter ends by saying, "Accordingly, based on the defense offered above, Clear Channel asserts that the material in Attachment A is not actionably indecent."
Stern posted the letter under the headline of "What A Difference A Year Makes: Clear Channel Defends Howard Stern."
Stern also lashed at KGB/San Diego's Dave, Shelly & Chainsaw morning show, accusing it of being dirtier than his show and vowing to post transcripts so people can file complaints. "Maybe we’ll take them down and a bunch of other shows," said Stern, who again questioned why Elliot Segal is still on WWDC/Washington, D.C. when he's been fined by the FCC for indecency, and why Ryan Seacrest was never punished by Clear Channel for airing the word "fuck" during his first day in mornings at KIIS/Los Angeles.
Late last week, Sternhad a terse reaction to the FCC's latest fine. "This is not a surprise," he posted on his website, howardstern.com. "This is a follow-up to the McCarthy type 'witch hunt' of the administration and the activities of this group of presidential appointees in the FCC, led by 'Colin Powell Jr.' and his band of players. They and others (a senator from Kansas City to a congresswoman from New Mexico) are expressing and imposing their opinions and rights to tell us all who and what we may listen to and watch and how we should think about our lives. So this is not a surprise."
The posting continued: "It is pretty shocking that governmental interference into our rights and free speech takes place in the U.S. It's hard to reconcile this with the 'land of the free' and the 'home of the brave.' I'm sure what's next is the removal of 'dirty pictures' like the 20th century German exhibit in a New York City Museum and the erotic literature in our libraries; they too will fall into their category of 'evil' as well."
Stern, who just recently started using his website for regular updates about his show, his battle with the FCC and other items, said this morning that the purpose of howardstern.com was to post informative articles about the indecency issue and to enable him to "communicate after they take me off the air." Stern claimed over 8 million people visited his website during a two-day period over the past weekend. Those numbers are on par with alexa.com, a web traffic tracking site, that shows howardstern.com has seen a 150% increase in activity over the past three months, with 305,000 out of every 1 million Internet users visiting his site over the past week.