XM Satellite suspends shock jocks Opie & Anthony

NEW YORK Tue May 15, 2007 6:36pm EDT

1 of 2. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice listens during speeches at the international conference on Iraq in Sharm el-Sheikh, in this file photo from May 4 2007. Shock jocks 'Opie & Anthony' were suspended on Tuesday from their satellite radio show for 30 days after remarks by a guest who said he fantasized about sex with Rice and first lady Laura Bush.

Credit: Reuters/Tara Todras-Whitehill

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Shock jocks "Opie & Anthony" were suspended on Tuesday from their satellite radio show for 30 days after remarks by a guest who said he fantasized about sex with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and first lady Laura Bush.

In the latest outcry over radio content widely criticized as crossing the bounds of good taste, the company that carries the show, XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc., said it "deplored" the comments made about a week ago on the program, hosted by Gregg "Opie" Hughes and Anthony Cumia.

The hosts issued an apology soon after the original airing, but XM said it was not convinced the two were sincere.

"Comments made by Opie and Anthony on yesterday's broadcast put into question whether they appreciate the seriousness of the matter," the company said in a statement.

"The management of XM Radio decided to suspend Opie and Anthony to make clear that our on-air talent must take seriously the responsibility that creative freedom requires of them."

Last month, CBS Radio fired talk-show host Don Imus after he referred to a Rutgers University women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos," stirring an uproar about the remarks that many people found racially offensive.

But while CBS Radio is a traditional broadcaster bound by U.S. indecency rules, satellite radio has touted its ability to remain a haven of uncensored, freewheeling speech.

Shock jock Howard Stern left CBS at the end of 2006 after signing a $500 million contract with Sirius Satellite Radio , describing his decision as an effort to flee broadcast censorship.

Officials at Sirius, which has agreed to a merger deal with XM, were not immediately available for comment on the Opie & Anthony decision.

CBS Radio, a unit of CBS Corp., simulcasts a censored daily version of the Opie & Anthony show aired on XM and said it still plans to run their program.

The Opie & Anthony Show has gotten the two into hot water before. They were fired from a New York station for a 2002 broadcast in which they encouraged couples to have sex in public places.

XM shares slipped 2.5 percent to $10.62 on Nasdaq.

(Additional reporting by Susan Zeidler in Los Angeles)

Reuters/Nielsen

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