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hey, if anyone's hard up for a place to send hate mail, sirius canada is a good place to start:

Stern won't be heard on Canadian satellite

Shock jock Howard Stern's Canadian fans are using ''grey market" U.S. billing addresses in order to get U.S. receivers and Stern's show.

TORONTO (Jan 4, 2006)

Howard Stern's jump to Sirius Satellite Radio in the U.S. has suddenly hurled the shock jock back onto the Canadian horizon.

He'll debut his new show next Monday, but Canadian subscribers of the Canuck branch of the company won't be able to hear it.

That's because Sirius Canada has decided not to carry the controversial DJ.

Stern disappeared from Canadian commercial radio in September 1997 after a CRTC ruling saying his live morning show breached domestic broadcast standards with its over-the-top sexual and racial humour, exploitation of guests and bigoted, often homophobic and misogynistic commentary.

Earlier this week, Sirius in the U.S. broke the three-million-subscriber mark, a feat the company attributes to recent sign-ups of Stern fans.

That's 800,000 new subscribers since Sept. 30, a revenue gain that drove Sirius stock up by 16 cents to $6.85 a share.

What might rankle the operators of Sirius Canada -- Toronto's Standard Radio and CBC, who own an 80 per cent share in the Canadian company, partnered with the New York-based SSR -- is that a good number of those new subscribers are Canadians.

As many as 80,000, by some estimates, are signing on to the U.S. service via "grey market'' U.S. billing addresses just to get American receivers that will pick up Stern. The service costs $14.95 per subscriber per month, and between $70 and $300 per receiver.

Fearing the wrath of the CRTC as much Stern's astronomical carriage fee, Sirius Canada's owners -- who also own terrestrial radio property that comes under much more rigid scrutiny than it's believed satellite radio will have to endure -- have decided not to carry Stern's channels on this side of the border.

It's presumed he'll breach codes established by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, by which all radio operators in this country abide.

The irony is that by denying Canadians access to Stern, Sirius Canada is driving domestic subscribers into the American "grey market,'' an illegal realm that Canadian satellite applicants promised the CRTC would be shut down upon approval of their licences.

"We're not carrying Stern,'' says Standard Radio chief Gary Slaight. "That's what we decided and I don't think we'll be changing our minds . . . for now.''

"Our programming will continue to evolve as we receive feedback,'' he says, referring to an Internet-based lobby group that has bombarded Sirius Canada with a petition to carry Stern allegedly signed by more than 10,000 of his Canadian fans.

Caught in a serious catch-22 -- whether to risk offending the CRTC, which has already deemed Stern not suitable for Canadian consumption, or to risk losing potential millions in subscription revenue -- Slaight says he and the CBC are "concerned over the grey market situation.''

"As of now, we have not changed our decision not to carry Howard Stern.''

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