Sirius XM CEO 'confident' Stern will return

The $500-million-host considering internet ventures

Sirius XM CEO Mel Karmazin is holding out hope Howard Stern will re-up his contract.

Karmazin told an audience at the Bank of America/Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference that he wouldn't negotiate with Stern -- whose five-year, $500 million contract is up at the end of this year -- in public, but he was "very confident" Stern would continue hosting his show on the satellite channel.

Karmazin also pointed out that he'd recently re-signed high-profile guests like Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart (who bombed in her premiere on the Hallmark Channel Tuesday).

Should Stern decide to discontinue his show, Karmazin isn't worried about losing listeners on the subscription-based service. "They may have come for Howard, they may love Howard... but they listen to other channels," he said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Stern hinted earlier this month that he may walk away from radio altogether to launch an online initiative so users could listen to him on computers, iPads or smartphones.

But he promised not to publicly bash his employer, as he was notorious for doing when he left CBS radio for Sirius in 2005. "For four months, I'm a company man," he told listeners.
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