It’s hard to argue with competition, I guess. But this still sounds like discouraging news for people who hate being force-fed TV ads, or inane entertainment: Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings said today that it will launch a TV news and entertainment service for airport waiting areas — challenging the 20-year hold that CNN Airport Network has had on those captive audiences. Clear Channel Outdoor and connectiVISION Digital Networks will launch the service, called ClearVision, this fall at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport. They vow to feature news and entertainment from more than 100 content services including CBS, NBC, The Wall Street Journal, and the Tennis Channel. The menu will include shows from CBS News, CBS Entertainment, CBS Daytime, and CBS Interactive, and NBC’s The Today Show, Smash, The Voice, Grimm, America’s Got Talent and The Office. And lots of ads, of course. Content ultimately will also be available via WiFi to travelers’ smartphones, tablets, and laptops. “ClearVision will forever change the air travel experience for passengers and enhance the way the airport and advertisers engage with customers,” says Toby Sturek, president of Clear Channel Airports. “For the first time, there is a content-driven, consumer-oriented offering available to airports that can deliver travelers a wide range of news and entertainment wherever they are in an airport—on traditional TV screens or their mobile devices.”
Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings is considering buying CBS’ billboard division, a deal that would boost sales at CCO by nearly two-thirds. A person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that CBS was approached by bankers interested in finding buyers for the billboard unit and agreed to listen to proposals. “Everyone is going to be looking at it and sizing it up, seeing if there’s value to be had,” said Clear Channel Outdoor’s CEO William Eccleshare. The Wall Street Journal, citing unidentified people with knowledge of the operation, reported previously that CBS is asking $6 billion for the unit, but Eccleshare said he’d be surprised if anyone agreed to pay that much. A spokesman for CBS declined to comment on Eccleshare’s remark.