CBS Interactive (NYSE: CBS), under pressure to cut costs after what now seems like an even more costly acquisition of CNET, is announcing some more restructuring tomorrow, we have learned from reliable sources late tonight, and as part of it, will be merging CBSNews.com and CNET newsrooms. Not clear: if it is merging the two main websites CBSNews.com and News.com. As a result of this merger, there will also be some layoffs, but we couldn't figure out the extent of those.
CBSNews.com did do some layoffs a year ago, slicing its staff by 15-20 employees, roughly 30 percent, among other smaller cuts. The CBSNews.com site has been among the smallest efforts from any TV news division, and now that CNET brought with it a better online infrastructure and a great domain name with News.com, likely they will finally capitalize on it and broaden the mandate beyond tech.
CBS CEO Les Moonves earlier today mentioned at the UBS conference that he wouldn't make the same CNET deal in the current environment. "The CNET deal was in May.Life was very different. We would not be doing that acquisition today." (To be clear, Moonves was referring specifically to the valuation of the CNET deal; he affirmed his belief in the acquisition itself.)
More as we have more. We couldn't reach West Coast CBS Interactive PR for comment tonight ...
Staci adds: I could be off target but I don't see the CBS News brand disappearing online anytime soonor at alleven if it's produced by a merged newsroom. News.com is a terrific domain that could be an umbrella for all news with a major marketing assist, among other things. Here's what CBSi CEO Quincy Smith had to say about it when the acquisition closed in June: "With News.com you really have a chance to blow things up (but) I want to be sensitive to the fact that News.com is the pre-eminent place for tech news to date. We don't want to disturb that. We want to learn what they've done in technology and make sure that if we go into more categories like sports, gossip, we start getting smarter about (getting into new verticals) in a major way."
By Rafat Ali