Jon Stewart: Mark Sullivan/
Gary Susman
March 19, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

Fans of ”The Daily Show” can count on many more moments of Zen, at least through 2008. On Thursday, Comedy Central announced it had signed Jon Stewart to another four years as host of the mock news program. ”A lot of people like to get out when their show’s still going well,” Stewart said in a statement. ”This gives me the opportunity to beat this thing into the ground.”

It also prevents Stewart, whose name is always on the short list whenever a late-night slot opens up, from defecting. ”Jon cannot say yes to a broadcast network” for at least four more years, Comedy Central president Larry Divney told the New York Times. As a priority for Comedy Central, keeping Stewart at the basic cable channel was ”an 11 on a scale of 10,” Divney said. While Stewart could draw a bigger audience and a bigger salary on network TV, ”he elected to stay for a couple of reasons,” Divney told the New York Daily News. ”It’s his show. He’s the executive producer, and Comedy Central affords him creative freedom.” Divney told the Daily News he offered Stewart a modest raise, but more importantly, the assurance to the host that ”this show is never going to be canceled, ever. He doesn’t have to worry about that.”

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