After the Janet/Justin Super Bowl incident, I predicted there would be repercussions at MTV – even though MTV is not regulated by the FCC. It didn’t take long before some of the more explicit videos they play were pushed out of prime time.
Videos are no longer a big thing on MTV, so this move isn’t as significant as it might seem. Still, a change is a change. It is certainly a reaction to an upwelling of public sentiment.
Now, in light of Howard Stern’s banishment by Clear Channel, I predict he’ll soon be gone from Viacom¹ as well.
Let me preface my explanation by saying I have no political ax to grind. What will be will be. It’s fun to make these predictions in the blog because I really can’t hide from them later. Just remember – this is only my read on the situation.
Here’s the set-up. Tuesday, Howard Stern had the ‘other’ participant in the now infamous Paris Hilton video, on-the-air. They talked, and took some phone calls. One listener asked some questions which were crude and racist, to say the least.
Wednesday evening, Matt Drudge had a short transcript of the conversation on his website. I’m glad I got to read it. I’m just as glad it’s no longer there.
I would hope Stern has the ability to monitor and censor inappropriate material before it hits air. In this case, he did not.
On Wednesday, after hearing an aircheck, Clear Channel Communications took action and issued this press release:
“Clear Channel drew a line in the sand today with regard to protecting our listeners from indecent content and Howard Stern’s show blew right through it,” said John Hogan, president and CEO of Clear Channel Radio. “It was vulgar, offensive, and insulting, not just to women and African Americans but to anyone with a sense of common decency. We will not air Howard Stern on Clear Channel stations until we are assured that his show will conform to acceptable standards of responsible broadcasting,” Hogan said.
Though America’s largest broadcasting company, Clear Channel only runs Stern on a handful of stations. Viacom is the actual syndicator of the show, and also runs it in many markets nationwide.
In this case, the tail (Clear Channel) will wag the dog (Viacom)!
Viacom is between a rock and a hard place because of statements earlier in the week. From Reuters:
Viacom president Mel Karmazin reportedly has imposed a crackdown on sexually explicit material on Infinity stations, declaring in a recent company-wide conference call: “This company won’t be a poster child for indecency.”
So, what can they do? Considering the Congressional hearings post-Super Bowl and Karmazin’s own public pledge, how can they stand behind Stern… especially in light of what Clear Channel’s CEO said?
They can’t. End of story. Hang out the “Help Wanted” sign. Stern is done.
¹ – Stern is syndicated by Infinity Broadcasting. Infinity, in turn, is owned by Viacom.