In a major move that further elevates Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Skyview Networks’ stature in the radio industry, CBS News Radio has agreed to shift its distribution, inventory management and sales to Skyview from the Cumulus Media-owned Westwood One, effective Jan. 1, 2018.
The multi-year agreement, announced in the early hours of an overcast morning in the Valley of the Sun, means Skyview will start supplying some 600 radio station affiliates with CBS News Radio’s top-of-the-hour newscasts, bottom-of-the-hour updates, actualities for the customized use of affiliate newscasts, breaking news, and special reports.
Not included is The Osgood File, as CBS News commentator Charles Osgood has a separate agreement with Westwood One for the syndication of his vignette series heard on radio stations across the U.S., including Alpha Media’s KXL-FM in Portland, Ore.
Speaking to RBR+TVBR, a Skyview representative said the entire company was “very excited to bring the heritage brand of CBS Radio into the Skyview family.”
This was echoed by Skyview Networks President Ken Thiele, who said, “We are proud to forge a new partnership with CBS News Radio. This agreement powers CBS News Radio on sales and broadcast distribution operations to provide the finest and most accessible experience for affiliates, listeners and advertisers.”
The transaction is strictly for CBS News Radio, a CBS executive noted. The remainder of CBS Radio Network programming is under contract with Westwood One through the end of 2018.
CBS News Radio’s contract expires at the end of 2017, and CBS executives insist that it is this — and not the acquisition by Entercom of CBS Corp.’s AM and FM stations via a Reverse Morris Trust-fueled merger — that led to a change.
“This transaction has absolutely nothing to do with the Entercom transaction,” a CBS News Radio executive noted.
Why, then, a change from Westwood One, a brand nearly synonymous with CBS News Radio for several years?
“We looked at the economics of the deal and what was proposed by Cumulus,” a CBS News Radio representative said. After doing their due diligence — and at Skyview’s relationship with ABC Radio — a pact with Skyview emerged as the favored option among CBS News Radio leadership.
“We were impressed by the sales and marketing team, and we liked what they did with one of our competitors,” a CBS News Radio executive said, referring to ABC Radio.
“Our new agreement with Skyview Networks will strengthen our distribution and advertising sales efforts,” said Charles Pavlounis, Chief Financial Officer for CBS News. “Westwood One has been a fantastic partner for many years, and we thank everyone there for their dedication to CBS News Radio. These changes will assure our 30 million weekly listeners that they will continue to get the highest level of quality journalism they are accustomed to, while also providing for new opportunities for growth.”
Additionally, a CBS News Radio representative noted the coming relationship with Skyview allows it to “more formalize the direct one-on-one relationship” with its affiliates.
CBS News Radio will in no way be combined with ABC Radio. Skyview executives confirmed to RBR+TVBR that each brand will remain linear and enjoying a complete separation between operations.
“These will continue to be two separate, unique, heritage brands, standing on their own,” a Skyview executive said. “This will be seen both externally and internally.”
Skyview Networks first emerged as a radio industry play-by-play and national network advertising solution, serving clients in the professional sports, news and lifestyle content sectors. With CBS News Radio, the company says the addition is “very strategic in our growth strategy. We see this as another extension of the offerings that Skyview brings to radio.”
Skyview and ABC Radio on Monday agreed to an early extension of their content, ad sales, affiliate sales and audio distribution agreement. This early renewal means their close relationship will continue through 2026.
Meanwhile, the timing of the Skyview pact with CBS News Radio comes immediately after the retirement announcement of its 17-year General Manager— Constance Lloyd. Lloyd enjoyed a three-decade career with CBS News has announced her retirement.
As a result, leadership duties for the division will be split by two individuals, who will report to CBS News SVP Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 10:50am Eastern to correct quote attributions when stated that the transaction is strictly for CBS News Radio and that the transaction is in no way connected to Entercom’s acquisition of the CBS Radio stations. The initial version of this story incorrectly attributed these quotes to a Skyview executive.