CBS moving quickly to divest about 50 radio stations


CBS Corporation announced this morning that it plans to divest another 50 or so radio stations in medium markets, but it has already been moving to get them sold. CEO Les Moonves said in his quarterly conference call that the company is already in talks with several strategic buyers. A deal or deals could be announced within 30 days and Moonves hopes to go to closing in Q1 or maybe Q2 of 2009. CFO Fred Reynolds said it is still “fluid” exactly which stations will be sold, but he said they will amount to about $300 million in annual revenues from the radio group.

Radio was down again in Q2, with revenues off 10% to $416.4 million, which Reynolds said was down 9% on a same station basis. Moonves applauded the success being made by CBS Radio CEO Dan Mason on reformatting some of the company’s large market stations and that selling the “slower growth” mid-market stations will allow CBS Radio to focus on growth in those large markets.

Television revenues were up 2% for the quarter to $2.2 billion. The company does not break out the O&O station group, but Reynolds confirmed that revenues there were down. Moonves remains gung-ho on the network business and crowed that the naysayers were wrong and the upfront turned out to be up for everyone, including CBS, not flat.

RBR-TVBR Observation: On this morning conference call one thing we picked up on was the level of excitement and high level enthusiasm in Moonves voice as he outlined what CBS Corp is up to today and tomorrow. In a nutshell – CBS Corp in all areas is as Moonves states, “In an Interactive business and Technology is our friend.”