$12.5 Bil. Q3 Loss for CBS

NEW YORK Amid a worsening advertising market, CBS Corp. today reported a third-quarter net loss of $12.5 billion. As the company reported earlier this month, it took a $14.1 billion write-down on its businesses.

Revenue for the quarter was up 3 percent to $3.4 billion, driven by the company’s acquisition four months ago of CNET and growth in the syndication business. For the first nine months, CBS revenue was basically flat at $10.42 billion.

For the first time, CBS broke out interactive as a separate reporting segment. Revenue for CBS Interactive, which includes CNET, was $140 million-plus in third quarter, up from $36 million, a nearly fourfold increase from a year ago. CNET revenue alone rose 6 percent, driven by a 12 percent increase in display advertising.

Overall TV revenue was up 2 percent to $2.08 billion.

While CBS’ local TV stations are suffering from declines in local advertising, CBS was upbeat about national advertising in network TV and the scatter market. “The scatter market isn’t booming like past years, but we are far outperforming our peers,” said Les Moonves, CEO of CBS, adding that scatter pricing is “hanging in there.”

As for political ads, CBS is forecasting it will bring in about $180 million, with half of that in fourth quarter.

CBS is also bullish about upcoming retransmission deals with cable companies. “Retransmission will increasingly play a role as a second revenue stream in our television segment,” Moonves said. “We were encouraged by the recent LIN TV deal with Time Warner Cable.”

The company is taking its time to sell the 50 radio stations it put on the block last quarter. “We’ve received some attractive bids, but current credit conditions make it difficult to predict the timing of transactions,” Moonves said. “We’ll make the best deal possible. We don’t have to sell by any given date.”

Meanwhile, radio revenue was down 12 percent to $393 million with same-station revenue down 11 percent.

Outdoor is also feeling the pinch of the economy, basically flat at $549.3 million.