Mr. Karmazin: Do you and Viacom’s shareholders consider the Howard Stern program acceptable for the broadcast media?
NEW YORK (February 27, 2004) – Michael R. Hastings, former Mayor of Burbank, Calif., and a [then] member of Morality in Media’s Board of Directors, has some questions seeking personal and corporate clarity from Viacom executive Mel Karmazin:
“Mr. Karmazin: In your testimony before Congress on February 11th, you stated that if ‘certain expletives’ were broadcast on Viacom stations—including the Infinity Broadcasting stations Viacom owns—this would result in ‘appropriate action, up to and including termination … against any Viacom employee who violates this policy.’
“And yet, despite your very public warning, on February 24th a very offensive discussion of sexual activities and organs was aired during the Howard Stern radio program. Infinity radio stations broadcast this sexual content during morning drive time.
“Will you be taking ‘appropriate action’ against Howard Stern – and, if not, why?
“Do you believe that the program content that prompted Clear Channel to pull the plug on Howard Stern was suitable for Viacom owned stations?
“In your testimony, Mr. Karmazin, you apologized for the Justin Timberlake / Janet Jackson Super Bowl halftime incident. You called that ‘unacceptable conduct’ – but you haven’t fired Howard Stern? Does that mean that the sexual content on the February 24th Howard Stern program was acceptable under community standards?
“Howard Stern is still on Viacom owned radio stations. Please help me understand: Does this mean that you and Viacom’s shareholders consider the Howard Stern program acceptable for the broadcast media—24 hours a day? I’d really like to know.”