Fifty CBS Stations Will Go on Sale

Company wants to sell out of middle-sized markets and focus on the largest.
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Company wants to sell out of middle-sized markets and focus on the largest.

Saying it wants to focus on larger radio markets, CBS said it wants to sell off another 50 stations.

Although many financial analysts have said that recent growth in radio was happening in smaller markets, for CBS the opposite appears to be true: “By selling selected stations in these markets we can focus on the larger market stations, many of which are showing growth,” the company said in releasing its quarterly financial numbers. “Management intends to use the value received from the divestiture to reduce its shares outstanding.”

According to its Web site, CBS Radio now operates 140 radio stations, all but one in the top 50 markets. It already shed 40 stations not long ago.

Radio revenue fell 10% in the quarter for CBS to $416.4 million, compared to the same quarter a year ago. Same-station revenue was off 9%.

President/CEO Leslie Moonves said the company has taken steps to generate long-term growth, citing its recent acquisition of CNET Networks and of IOA, an outdoor business in South America. “Both of these growing businesses exemplify our strategy to increase our presence in the areas of highest potential.”

He also said the company has taken “aggressive cost reduction actions to manage expenses” since the beginning of the year.

According to Marketwatch, Moonves told a conference call of analysts, “We continue to see proof that focusing on better content in our largest radio markets is working. The 15 major-market stations that have been reformatted have dramatically improved their profits, underscoring radio’s potential."

CBS Corp.’s overall revenues were $3.39 billion in the quarter, up 1%.

CBS is combining its interactive businesses, now reported in its Television segment, with those of CNET, to create an expanded CBS Interactive business unit.


CBS Radio Revenue Falls

In the company’s fourth quarter, “same station” revenue fell 7%, and overall radio revenue decreased 10%, reflecting weakness in ad sales as well as the impact of radio divestitures in 10 markets.