Spike TV Deal with Stern on the Table

LOS ANGELES, California — “The Howard Stern Show” is signing off E! Networks next month, ending an 11-year run of racy programming that featured porn stars, amputee beauty pageants and the oddball members of Stern’s “wack pack.”

After taping more than 2,000 episodes of his daily radio broadcast, the nationally syndicated radio personality is looking for a new television home, with sources indicating Spike TV is at the negotiating table; the Viacom-owned cable channel declined comment.

Stern will tape his final episode July 8, less than half a year before he is scheduled to take leave of terrestrial radio for his new deal at Sirius Satellite Radio. E! retains rights to air library episodes of “Stern,” its highest-rated program, which will continue in its regular late-night slots beginning July 11.

“As ‘The Howard Stern Show’ evolves into a premium service, it is time for our late-night programming to evolve as well,” Ted Harbert, president and CEO of E! Networks, said in a statement. “All of us at E! are extremely grateful to Howard for all that he’s done for the network.”

On his radio show Tuesday, Stern himself referred to the impending end of his contract with E! He alluded to having a post-E! strategy but indicated he wasn’t ready to divulge details.

Spike TV would represent a potential home for Stern, given its programming mix is targeted at the young male audience he has lured throughout his career. Stern already has a cartoon series based on his early years in development at Spike TV. Last year, the network took a stab at an original late-night programming block with animated fare that flopped.

What isn’t clear is what any basic cable channel would do to handle the relaxed content limits to which Stern is looking forward at Sirius. Despite his routine complaints about the restrictions imposed on him by Viacom-owned parent company Infinity Radio, the show still is among the raciest programs on the air, with E! frequently forced to edit profanities and pixilate nudity.

Sources have indicated E! parent company Comcast Corp. was not thrilled about airing Stern in light of increasing scrutiny of cable programming on Capitol Hill.

An ever racier version of Stern’s show conceivably could have a place on premium cable, but HBO already discontinued its discussions with Stern, according to sources.

Representatives for Stern could not be reached for comment.


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