Sirius Stiffs Stern; Stern Sues Sirius
Last December Howard Stern quelled concerns that he might leave SiriusXM Radio by signing a new five-year contract. Now, just three months later, he’s suing the new company, claiming it bilked him out of the performance-based stock awards promised to him by the old one.
“When Sirius needed Stern, it promised him a share in any success that the company achieved,” the suit reads. “But now that Sirius has conquered its chief competitor and acquired more than 20 million subscribers, it has reneged on its commitment to Stern, unilaterally deciding that it has paid him enough.”
According to the suit, Sirius did give Stern his initial stock award after he signed on in January 2006, but it failed to pay him out on any others even though it “exceeded its own internal estimates by more than 2 million subscribers” each year for the remainder of the original contract.
“Stern enabled Sirius to surpass its internal subscriber targets by more than 2 million subscribers in 2006 and in 2007,” the suit alleges. “Because of this success and the revenue that it brought into the company, [Stern] was entitled to receive the performance-based stock awards Sirius promised [him].”
So Sirius is stiffing Stern. Not a particularly wise move given the latter’s irascibility and reach of his daily radio show. If there’s a PR battle to be fought here, Sirius will likely lose it first thing tomorrow morning when Stern’s back on the air again.
Reached for comment, Sirius claimed to have met its obligations to Stern. “SIRIUS XM just signed a contract through 2015 with Howard Stern, and he is a valued part of our company,” spokesman Patrick Reilly told me. “We were thus surprised and disappointed by the subsequent legal action initiated by his production company and agent. We have met all of our obligations under the terms of our 2004 agreement with Howard, his agent and production company.”
Here’s a copy of the suit: