Mel: All’s swell with Sirius

Karmazin tries to sell Stern overseas

LONDON — A bullish Mel Karmazin talked up Sirius satellite radio’s prospects to an audience of potential investors in London at a Merrill Lynch U.S. Media Day confab on Thursday.

The topper continues to be excited about shockjock Howard Stern’s debut on the service.

“Howard Stern is coming to us no later than Jan. 1,” said Karmazin. “That’s when his contract at Viacom expires — if they can keep him that long. If they take him off air earlier we’ll start right away.”

There’s little indication, however, that Stern will be off the hook with Viacom before 2006.

Karmazin, fresh from a similar stint in Washington on Tuesday, claimed Stern would generate even bigger audiences for his new employers than he has for Viacom because Sirius would broadcast his show in important new markets, such as Atlanta.

The former Viacom No. 2 was speaking at a one-day event that also featured presentations from other U.S. media players, including Disney and News Corp., but, significantly, his session was the only one open to reporters.

Karmazin claimed that in-car listening habits change radically once their owners sign up for satellite radio.

He predicted that Sirius’ revenues would reach north of $200 million this year; the outfit took $67 million in 2004.

To make the service still more attractive, Karmazin said that he is planning to offer three channels of real-time in-car TV broadcasts for kids for around $7 a month beginning in 2007.

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