“The aim here is to unlock value for our shareholders,” he said. And “we’ll be looking at all” options.
CBS is one of the nation’s largest owners of major-market radio stations with more than 117 outlets in 26 markets.
But the industry has been struggling as stations compete with digital music services including Pandora. Ad sales for radio fell about 1% last year.
CBS says that its radio revenues fell 6% in 2015, reflecting “continued softness in the radio advertising marketplace as well as fewer radio stations and lower political revenues.”
Les Moonves: CBS Plans To Renew Five Of This Season's Freshman Series
The company also took a $484 million impairment charge after concluding that the value of stations in 18 markets was “lower than their respective carrying values..” It attributed that to “a sustained decline in industry projections for the radio advertising marketplace since 2014.”
Moonves made the announcement after urging attendees not to “paint all media companies with the same brush — we’re different.”
This is the first such meeting CBS has had since 2011. The stock price is down about 14.6% over the last 12 months, below the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 but in line with other media companies as investors have become skeptical about prospects for traditional media.
Moonves says, though, that there are “some important parts of our story that aren’t fully understood or appreciated.”
He says it’s “inevitable” that pay TV distributors will create skinny bundles, with lower prices and fewer channels than the expanded basic package.
But CBS will fare well because — outside of CBS and Showtime — “we’re not encumbered by a portfolio of smaller entities that must fit into our carriage deal.”
He adds that it’s “a time for confidence” for the economy, and for CBS. Advertisers are “extremely confident,” and not moving dollars to digital platforms. “Digital is complementary to broadcast,” Moonves says.
Between that and the company’s initiatives, especially in digital, “CBS is set up once again to not only outperform in the near future, but to outperform in the next five years as we did in the last five.”
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