A fire sale on CBS' legacy
by Doc Searls Friday, July 8, 2016

Sez the headline, CBS Firms Up Plans To Spin Off Radio Division.

When a company decides to spin off its oldest legacy — CBS started in radio as the Columbia Broadcast System, when all broadcast was radio — you know the parent predicts it will become worthless over time.

So here is what I wrote in my comment under the piece, lightly edited to correct minor errors:

Radio isn't radio any more. It's just a name for one legacy-labeled stream among countless others on the Net. Radio's boat-anchor legacy is called "range" and "coverage." On AM and FM, those are limited to a city or region, and to legacy receiving devices mostly used in cars, where more and more sources of content (Apple, Pandora, Spotify, SiriusXM, et. al.) are appearing on the dashboard. The quality of legacy radio electronics is also limited to cheap available chipsets and by the fashion of concealing antennas, which makes reception even worse. (AM won't even work in all-electric cars, thanks to interference from computing machinery. That's why it's not included in Teslas.)

The only fully valuable parts of CBS radio are its news and sports programs. These will eventually be just more branded source of content, which — if people still want it — will arrive via subscription, either directly or through bundles such as SiriusXM provide (currently sans CBS news, last I looked). Since most of CBS radio's income today is from advertising, and since hundreds of millions of people are boycotting advertising (through blockers and tracking protection), the only sure long term value of CBS is subscription-worthy news and sports. For a smart buyer of CBS radio properties, that's what's worth having. Maybe. In other words, caveat emptor.

Later:::: And now they want to have an IPO while their financials are awful