Update 9/18: At a Bank of America Merrill Lynch conference yesterday, CBS President/CEO Les Moonves once again discussed CBS trimming its radio portfolio.
Moonves stated that he would like to drop around 40 stations to somewhere in the “high 80s, low 80s over the next year or so”.
Original Report 9/11: In an interview with CNBC on Wednesday, CBS President/CEO Les Moonves discussed the possibility of the company divesting some of its radio assets.
CNBC’s DAVID FABER: When I look at the portfolio, the one thing that maybe stands out is radio. And some say at some point is that potentially the last piece you might consider? Well Simon and Schuster also selling.
LES MOONVES You know what, we own 127 some odd radio stations. I think you might see us try to trim down radio in that some of our radio stations aren’t in major markets. We still believe in radio. It is a slow growth radio. Not as fast as some of our other businesses. We like it. But as I said, you might see a reduction in the number of radio stations that we have.
FABER: But not necessarily figuring out a way to either spin it to shareholders or sell it?
MOONVES: Highly doubtful, hightly doubtful. Once again it is still a content business. Unlike the outdoor business which is walls, you put advertising on walls that’s what it is. It’s a great business. Radio is a content business. We have developed our Sports Radio Network which works in concert with our other divisions: CBS Sports Network and CBS Sports and Showtime. Valuable Content.
Moonves clearly rules out CBS selling out of radio completely, but there are quite a few markets where the company could be willing to sell. Charlotte, Cleveland, Hartford, Las Vegas, Orlando, Palm Springs, Riverside and St. Louis are among the smaller markets where the company owns radio stations, but not television stations. Baltimore, Minneapolis, and Sacramento could also be considered if they aren’t that interested in radio/television cross-ownership in the markets. Of course smaller is in the eye of the beholder as outside of standalone stations in Palm Springs and Victor Valley, Hartford at market 52 is the smallest market the company operates in.