CBS Corp. snags SignStorey

Deal offers additional platform for advertisers

CBS Corp. has named Carolyn Reidy prexy-CEO of its Simon & Schuster publishing wing, replacing Jack Romanos, who will retire in December.

CBS chief exec Leslie Moonves said Simon & Schuster had performed “fabulously” since it became part of CBS Corp. last year with the Viacom split.

Reidy was prexy of Simon & Schuster’s adult publishing division, the company’s largest, home of such bestselling scribes as Stephen King, Dr. Phil McGraw and Mary Higgins Clark. She first joined the publishing giant in 1992.

Romanos has been with Simon & Schuster for 22 years, rising to CEO in 2002. He will remain a consultant to CBS Corp. through 2009.

Separately on Thursday, CBS said it has pacted to acquire SignStorey, operator of a network of video screens in supermarkets, for $71.5 million in cash.

Since last year CBS has had a content deal with the company, which allowed it to market some of its news and entertainment shows to shoppers in grocery stories including Albertsons, Pathmark and Price Chopper.

“Clearly, it fit to a certain extent as a content provider and as an outdoor company,” Moonves said. “We will be able to have promos for our shows there as well as news clips and short pieces from ‘Entertainment Tonight’ to ‘Dr. Phil.’ ”

The network, to be named CBS Outernet upon completion of the acquisition, will add to CBS’ out-of-home TV network that includes Eye on American on American Airlines and CBS Eye on Royal Caribbean, among other outlets.

The network also gives CBS an additional platform for advertisers. Specific content and advertising can be directed to any number of the 1,400 stores involved.

SignStorey’s management will stay in place. CEO Virginia Cargill will report to Moonves and work closely with CBS’ outdoor division and with CBS marketing prexy George Schweitzer.

Moonves said the deal represents the company’s strategy to build higher-growth areas of the portfolio through small acquisitions.

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