Now that the FCC has fined Clear Channel $495,000, the next shoe to drop in the Howard Stern saga is expected to land firmly on Infinity, which airs Stern on 18 of its stations around the country. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Commission is sending a letter of inquiry to Infinity to confirm whether or not its stations aired the same material that Clear Channel did. The task may prove difficult because local affiliates have the ability to bleep out content they deem offensive and often do not keep records of material they may have dumped.
Meanwhile, the New York Post recently polled general managers of 17 Stern affiliates about their future on-air partnership with the embattled jock. The results? Only four GMs expressed unabashed support, one is on the fence, and the remaining 12 declined to comment.
"He has the highest rated program on any station at any time in Atlantic City," WJSE owner Al Parinello told the Post's John Mainelli. "According to the FCC, I guess [the ratings] mean everybody here is indecent and frankly, that appalls me."
WCCC/Hartford's Boyd Arnold vowed to "have Howard on as long as Infinity makes him available." But WXLO/Lexington's Charles Cohn told the paper, "We're just evaluating everything right now - we're looking at what all our options are."
Meanwhile, the complainant behind Stern's latest fine is Coral Gables, Fla. lawyer John B. Thompson, a self-described "all purpose crusader" against adult entertainment "affecting children." Thompson heard the April 9, 2003 Stern show on WBGG in Ft. Lauderdale and filed the complaint that triggered the FCC's half-million dollar fine against Clear Channel. Thompson, who regularly files television and radio complaints with the FCC, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that he expects the FCC to fine Infinity for the same show. "They can't whack Clear Channel and not whack Infinity," he told the paper.