Howard Stern repeatedly and willfully breached his written contract with CBS Radio over the last 22 months of that contract, misappropriated millions of dollars worth of CBS Radio airtime for his own financial benefit, and fraudulently concealed his interest in hundreds of millions of dollars of Sirius stock while promoting it on the air.
That on or about January 9, 2006, Sirius paid over 34 million shares of stock, valued at approximately $220 million, to Stern and his agent because Sirius exceeded by the end of 2005 certain subscriber targets that were set in the Sirius-Stern contract. The complaint alleges that the Sirius-Stern contract provided that Stern was to receive this stock payment in 2010, but it had an acceleration provision that allowed Stern to receive the compensation as early as January 2006 if these subscriber targets were met. All of Stern's actions for which he received this expedited compensation occurred during the time that Stern was under exclusive contract with CBS Radio, when the Sirius payment terms to Stern were kept secret.
This contract thus provided a compelling incentive for Stern to do all that he could to help Sirius reach the subscriber targets by the end of 2005 so that he could receive his Sirius stock payment as soon as possible while Sirius's stock was extremely valuable. Without the accelerated payment, Stern would risk the decline of the Sirius stock value. By taking action on CBS Radio's airtime in 2004 and 2005, Stern assured himself of immediate access to $200 million in assets that could be readily converted to cash.
By engaging in continuous promotion of Sirius on CBS Radio airtime without any payment by Sirius to CBS for these advertisements and by pocketing over $200 million dollars for his personal benefit, Stern misappropriated millions of dollars worth of CBS Radio airtime for his own financial benefit and the financial benefit of Don Buchwald, his agent, and Sirius in contravention of repeated directives by CBS Radio.
Without having seen Stern's contract, I can't speak to the breach of contract claims. But the misappropriation and fraud claims go to basic issues of an agent's fiduciary duties and I have argued that Stern was in breach of those duties.
In fact, my TCS column today is an analysis of the legal claims being made by CBS against Howard Stern.