John Severino, newly appointed president of the combined CBS-Paramount station group, says he'll focus first on integrating the stations in the six duopoly markets created by the combined groups. And he also intends to create additional duopolies through station trades.
That's the second-best way to come into compliance with the FCC maximum-coverage rules (35%) in the most efficient way possible, he said. The preferred option remains getting the ownership cap lifted. Currently, the CBS-Paramount group covers 41% of the U.S. The FCC gave Viacom a year to divest enough stations to come into compliance.
"The current cap is more in line with 1970s standards, and we're going to see if we can get it lifted so it's up to the standards of the 2000s," said Severino. In the meantime, he'll merge operations where he can in six duopoly markets-Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston, Dallas, Miami and Detroit. Everything from sharing the same office, and melding sales staffs and other departments, is under consideration.
Severino gained control of the 19 Paramount stations last week when Viacom announced they would merge with the 16-station CBS Group.