Network Eyes 3 for $130 Mil. Media

NEW YORK CBS has cut the list of contenders in its media review to three finalists including incumbent Carat, a unit of Aegis Group, sources said.

Also in pursuit are Interpublic Group’s Initiative and Omnicom Group’s OMD, per sources. CBS spends an estimated $130 million a year on ads, per TNS Media Intelligence.

Final presentations are next week and a decision is expected by the end of the month. Cheryl Lodinger, the Los Angeles-based consultant who is overseeing the review, would not confirm the finalists. “But we will have an answer in the next couple of weeks,” she said.

The agencies either could not be reached or declined comment.

The network confirmed the review in January. Up to now, Carat has been handling media for the CBS and UPN networks. But with the split of Viacom and CBS into two companies at the start of the year, CBS added Showtime, the King World and Paramount syndication units, Simon & Schuster Publishing and CBS Digital Media, all of which are part of the review.

It’s the new combination of assets that prompted the review, CBS marketing president George Schweitzer said in January. “It’s very big and it’s very diversified. It is incumbent upon us at this time to take a look around and see how best this combination can be served,” he said. “It’s not about Carat, it’s about the new world.”

The winner will plan and buy mostly national advertising for TV, print, cable, radio, newspaper magazines and interactive, Schweitzer said. Advertising for the company’s local TV and radio stations is not part of the review.