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Howard Stern loses appeal in lawsuit vs Sirius XM over pay

Howard Stern adjusts his headphones before the start of his news conference during the live debut broadcast of his show on Sirius Satellite
Howard Stern adjusts his headphones before the start of his news conference during the live debut broadcast of his show on Sirius Satellite

By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York state appeals court declined to revive a $330 million lawsuit brought by disc jockey Howard Stern against satellite radio broadcaster Sirius XM Radio Inc for refusing to pay him stock awards he said he was due.

In a one-paragraph decision, the court on Thursday affirmed a trial judge's ruling last year that threw out Stern's lawsuit, finding that the 2004 deal that brought him from traditional radio to Sirius was "unambiguous."

Stern claimed that Sirius should count subscribers to the former XM Satellite Radio Inc, which Sirius bought in 2008, as well as its own subscribers in calculating performance-based awards for Stern and his production company, One Twelve Inc.

"The disputed term ‘Sirius subscribers,' by which plaintiffs' performance-based compensation was measured, did not include subscribers to XM Radio," the appeals court wrote.

The 59-year-old "shock jock" signed a five-year deal worth $500 million and began airing his show on Sirius in 2006 after spending decades on traditional radio. He filed the lawsuit in 2011, just months after renewing his contract for another five years.

Seth Rothman, a lawyer representing One Twelve, and Stern's agent, Don Buchwald, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Patrick Reilly, a Sirius spokesman, declined to comment.

The lawsuit said that Stern's presence helped Sirius exceed his subscription targets by at least 2 million in each of several years, beginning in 2006.

New York-based Sirius finished 2012 with 23.9 million subscribers, up from 3.3 million at the end of 2005.

Sirius awarded $75 million to One Twelve and $7.5 million to Buchwald after Stern's first year. It also paid One Twelve $25 million and $2.5 million to Buchwald after the XM merger was completed.

Stern was a judge on NBC's television reality show "America's Got Talent" in 2012 and is expected to appear on the show again this year.

The case is One Twelve Inc et al v. Sirius XM Radio Inc, New York State Supreme Court, New York County, No. 650762/2011.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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