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$130 Mil. CBS Media Is Up for Grabs

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NEW YORK CBS has placed its media account in review, the company confirmed today. The network spends an estimated $130 million annually on ads, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Aegis Group's Carat is the incumbent and will defend, the client said.

Los Angeles-based consultancy Opinions, headed by former McCann Erickson and Sony Pictures executive Cheryl Lodinger, has been retained to manage the competition.

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, Paramount theme parks and CBS Digital Media, all of which are part of the review.

"We have a new combination of media assets here," said George Schweitzer, president of CBS Marketing Group. "It's very big and it's very diversified. It is incumbent upon us at this time 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.

Interested parties can contact Lodinger directly at clodinger@sbcglobal.net. The deadline for returning the request for proposal is Jan. 27.

"We'd like to conclude this by the end of March," said Lodinger. "We're looking for creative planning and an understanding of the television business."

Although the review is for media duties, "if there are agencies who want to show us their creative, we are not going to say we don't want to see it," Lodinger said. "But creative is not part of the RFP. It's about media and media research and who can bring us the most creative and unique opportunities."

She added, "We're sending out the RFP to those who request it. We're casting a wide net."

This story updates an expands an item posted earlier today with comments from CBS.