"Jon Stewart to Remain 'Daily Show' Host"
Associated Press
April 25, 2003


NEW YORK - Comedy Central has locked up its biggest star, Jon Stewart, to continue as host of the comic newscast "The Daily Show" through next year's presidential election.

Stewart and Comedy Central have extended a contract that was to expire this year, said Bill Hilary, the network's general manager. Terms were not disclosed.

"He's very important to us and it's a flagship show," Hilary said Thursday. "We're really pleased that we were able to do this."

Hilary said the deal was actually reached last fall, but news only slipped out this week in connection with AOL Time Warner's sale of its stake in the cable network to Viacom. The two media giants had shared ownership of Comedy Central.

"The Daily Show" has increased its audience by 10 percent over the past year, mostly among viewers aged 18-to-34 who hadn't shown much interest in topical humor before, Hilary said.

"It's a unique show that has brought something different to comedy and news coverage," Hilary said.

Stewart's name is usually the first mentioned whenever there's talk of a late-night vacancy at one of the broadcast networks.

But Hilary, who said he'd reopen talks this fall on extending the contract further, said he believed Stewart, 40, has more freedom at Comedy Central than he'd be able to get elsewhere.


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