Clear Channel Sues Stern

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Clear Channel Communications Inc. has countersued Howard Stern and Infinity Broadcasting Corp., claiming more than $3 million in damages from breach of contract.

Stern filed suit several weeks ago against Clear Channel, claiming the nation's top radio station owner didn't have the right to drop his show from six stations.

Clear Channel had declared a zero-tolerance indecency policy to Washington in the midst of post-Janet Jackson indecency hearings there last Winter. It then pulled Stern off its air permanently following a complaint against his show and settled a raft of proposed indecency fines and inquiries, including against Stern, with the FCC for a record $1.75 million.

Clear Channel now alleges it had every right to yank Stern since some broadcasts "were not in compliance with federal law and FCC regulations" as was required in his contract. It also said it was contractually prohibited from altering the show and thus "powerless to delete unlawful content."

"The radio show was pulled because Mr. Stern and Infinity refused to assure us that future programs would conform to the law," said Clear Channel Chief Legal Officer Andy Levin. "That was a key term in the agreement, and we gave them every opportunity to make good on their word before we permanently retired the show."

Clear Channel said at the time of Stern's ouster, and reiterated Wednesday, that to continue to broadcast the shock jock would have put its station licenses in jeopardy.

Clear Channel says the $3 million-plus is to cover lost ad revenue, refund of monies paid to Infinity and Stern's production company, One Twelve, and to cover proposed Howard Stern fines it had to settle.

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