Legendary call letters, including WCBS and KCBS, will continue to fly high as the branding, domain names and call signs for the radio stations they’re synonymous with – long after the Entercom-CBS Radio merger closes. Under licensing terms spelled out in the merger agreement, “NewsRadio 880” WCBS and classic hits WCBS-FM New York; news KCBS San Francisco and adult hits “Jack FM” KCBS-FM Los Angeles can keep using those storied call letters for 20 years after CBS Corp. hands the keys to its radio division over to Entercom.
The call letters are in some cases historic The WCBS call sign has been attached to the 880 frequency in New York since 1946.
The licensing terms are spelled out in explicit detail in the parts of the agreement that pertain to the “CBS Brands” – the trademarks and domain names owned by the CBS Group. It’s a long list that includes everything from the famous CBS Eye Design, CBS, CBS Radio and CBS Sports Radio to WCBS, KCBS and the seven other all-news radio stations that share call letters with CBS television stations. Those are KDKA Pittsburgh, WBBM Chicago, KYW Philadelphia, WWJ Detroit, WBZ Boston, WCCO Minneapolis and WJZ Baltimore. CBS is being more generous in its licensing terms for these seven station brands, allowing Entercom to keep their call letters and branding intact “perpetually.”
While the merged company will be known as Entercom, it can still use the name CBS Radio Inc. for 12 months after the deal closes. Entercom has to remove all references to CBS and its brands, including CBS Radio and CBS Sports Radio, from all of its assets and any domain names that include those trademarks within one year after the blockbuster merger closes. However Entercom can continue to use the “CBS Sports Radio” name for the CBS Sports Radio Network until December 31, 2020. Terms for the “CBS Sports Radio” trademark are different on the local level. Both “CBS Sports Radio 1300” WJZ Baltimore and “CBS Sports Radio 1270” WXYT Detroit have to remove all references to CBS, the CBS Brands and all CBS television station brand names from all of their assets.
“CBS Brands” refers to the CBS Eye design trademark and any other trademark owned by the CBS Group that contains the “CBS” trademark including CBS, CBS Radio, CBS Sports Radio and any domain names that include those trademarks.
The prospectus for the landmark deal also spells out how Entercom must phase out of its use of the iconic CBS Eye design, which is part of the logo of “NewsRadio 880” WCBS. It has 12 months after closing the deal to remove the Eye design “from all goods, services and materials in the Licensees’ possession or control.”