CBS CEO Still Bullish on Radio

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The Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom conference in San Francisco has given us a fantastic comment on radio’s place in the media landscape of the modern age.  CBS Corporation CEO Les Moonves was put on the spot when an attendee asked why CBS is not divorcing themselves  from radio and outdoor  in light of the “disruptive” new technologies presented by mobile and the Internet. Without missing a beat, Moonves laid it out for them (as reported in Radio Business Report):

“There are the same amount of people listening to terrestrial radio today as 10 years ago – it hasn’t gone down one iota with satellite radio or whatever. We have been able to put our radio online. It’s become very successful, as I mentioned. It’s working hand-in-hand with our Interactive Group and Last.FM. It’s become very successful. The radio sales guys are not only selling their air time, they’re selling the online time as well, so it’s proven to be a big boon. I think what’s happened is you don’t eliminate those businesses, you move them into the future. I think that’s what’s happened with every single one of our content businesses – is just learn how to use it and use it properly so…it’s not the same game as it was, but in certain instances it is. Radio still generates a hugeamount of cash for us. You know, and cash is a very good thing. I don’t care what business you’re in. So we believe in it. If we could trim radio down a little bit, we would probably do that. We like being a major market radio player, but it’s still a very solid business. And as they work with the Interactive, it will be for the future as well,” Moonves said.

That comment points out one consistent fallacy that I find in discussions of radio’s future: the idea that radio and Internet technologies are mutually exclusive. It is simply a matter of finding the correct synergies between the old and new media to make them effective in the modern world. Radio will always have a solid grip on the offline world; its completely free programming and ubiquitous presence will see to that. Now is the age when it spreads its influence to the digital world.

It’s funny. I wonder where the idea of competing as opposed to complimentary technologies got started. I suppose it is an easy reflex to discount the old in favor of the new and sexy; in this case, the Internet. Just because the reflex is easy does not make it an accurate reaction. It is always a good idea, no matter what business you are in, to look for synergies, and those are not always immediately obvious.

Image: CBS Radio Logo / Fair Use: Reporting

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