Right now most Sirius XM (NASDAQ:SIRI) investors are thanking their lucky stars that Rush Limbaugh doesn't have a show on any of the many Sirius XM radio stations. Yet Lori Spechler, a Senior Editor at CNBC proposes that maybe satellite radio should "grab him up", the same way they did with Howard Stern. Why Rush? Because his show has no advertisers at this time willing to risk a national boycott of their products. In fact all national commercials for the show have been cancelled for the next two weeks:
The latest wrinkle in the ongoing controversy is the cancellation of all national commercials during "The Rush Limbaugh Show" by its syndicator, Premiere Networks. This comes after nearly a hundred national advertisers and dozens more have dropped Limbaugh and other conservative commentators like a political hot potato.If this continues, Rush may have no where else to go. Some large radio stations might be willing to pay for the show which would take care of the problem, but will it be enough to cover his multi-million dollar contract. I doubt it. All of this was caused by Limbaugh's comments which sent shock waves to most women everywhere:
Have you ever used a contraceptive? Then talk show host Rush Limbaugh probably thinks you're a 'slut' or a 'prostitute,' too. That's what he called Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke because she wants the college's health insurance to cover contraceptives!What Rush did not realize when he made the remarks is that a lot of students use college health insurance. Many of them, especially graduate students are older and can not be covered under their parents policy. And many of them are married, but want to finish school before starting a family. Buying health insurance from a university is not a social program for the poor and underprivileged. As a matter of fact these young adults are the future leaders of our country. Thankfully I did not hear his rant, but those who did said it went on for hours:
Rush told Sandra that he would personally pay for the "aspirin" for Georgetown University students to "hold between their knees" as contraception. He accused Sandra Fluke of having so much pre-marital sex that she was "going broke." He said that if Sandra or other female Georgetown University students want their contraceptives to be paid for by health insurance companies that they should pay us (i.e. Rush Limbaugh) back by videotaping themselves having sex and then posting the videos, so he could see them.Rush commented yesterday that he thinks he has won this battle and beat the "democrats". Even though he has lost all of his advertisers, and the respect of many loyal listeners, he thinks he won. He is proud of what he did and thinks its funny:
Rush Limbaugh on Tuesday laughed at Democrats for having tried to use the radio host's now-infamous "slut" comment to their political advantage, gloating about recent polls showing President Barack Obama's approval numbers tanking while taunting, "They thought I was finished."Again this is a major misconception. This fight is with women, their families and loved ones, and others who have ever felt bullied by Rush. It amazes me to see people condemn young children for bullying, but when they grow up and become adults who bully it is overlooked. However now thousands of people are standing up through Twitter:
"Rush's use of degrading language is an attempt to silence the voices of women and other marginalized groups. He's done it to individuals like Sandra Fluke and groups of people that span nearly all women, people of color, immigrants, gays, the disabled, Muslims, Jews, veterans, environmentalists, take your pick." The #BulliedByRush campaign is collecting stories and accounts from anyone who has ever felt bullied by Rush Limbaugh.Their goal is to get him off the air. However there are reports that his audience was 14 million before this happened, and it has now gone up to 25 million. In December, I wrote an article about Howard Stern and the boost Sirius should get from his new job as a judge on "America's Got Talent". According to Stern he has "between 5 and 6 million" listeners. This pales to Limbaugh if all of these numbers are indeed true. Bringing Rush in to Sirius might add millions of new subscribers.
But we have to consider all of the costs. Would there be an equal number of subscribers lost due to the vile nature of his show now? I mean this is a new low in program content. And what would his contract cost Sirius? According to the New York Times (July 2008) he currently makes $50 million a year:
The radio host will be paid about $400 million to continue serving up his daily dose of conservative patter through 2016. His $50 million a year paycheck represents a raise of about $14.4 million a year over his current contract, which was paying him $285 million over eight years and was set to expire in 2009.Judging by the overwhelmingly negative comments on the social networks about Rush, I think he would be a PR nightmare. Sirius XM has become a very well respected company with excellent content. But as I always say "never say never". The company took a chance on Howard Stern and it paid off big time. Sometime you have to be a little "edgy" to attract listeners. And more listeners bring more investors. In 2016 when Limbaugh's contract is up (if he makes it that long) this might be ancient history. In the meantime Sirius XM will continue onward and upward without him.
Disclosure: I am long SIRI.