CBS Radio, home to the legendary New York rock station WNEW-FM, is selling off 50 of its mid-sized radio stations in response to soft local ad markets and a weak economy. "We are clearly challenged by the economic conditions affecting many industries, particularly as it pertains to our local businesses," CBS CEO Leslie Moonves told analysts in a conference call Thursday. "The economy is tough right now."
A CBS spokeswoman would not discuss details or what stations were going up for sale, but said some stations on the block are likely to be music formats. Some analysts predict CBS will look to sell markets such as Sacramento, Riverside and Las Vegas. CBS has three classic-rock stations, 12 classic-hits stations, and 15 country stations. The nine alt-rock stations look to be safe (except for, perhaps, WPBZ-FM West palm Beach, Florida). A list of CBS stations by format can be found here.
The stations for sale make up 15 percent of the network's radio revenue. Last quarter, CBS Radio posted income of $151 million, down 16 percent. Once the sale is complete, CBS will have halved its number of radio stations down from 180 in 2006. It was yet to be determined whether the stations would be sold off together, or separately. According to Variety, Moonves has already had discussions with potential buyers and hopes to reach a deal in the next 30 days.
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