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CBS fights for its future

Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

CBS is bringing its majority shareholder, National Amusements, to court Wednesday to fight for independence and stop a merger with cable network Viacom, also owned by National Amusements. At the same time, it’s also hosting its annual UpFront advertising presentation in New York Wednesday evening to convince advertisers that everything is fine.

Why it matters: It’s a historic split-screen moment for CBS. In one state it's fighting to lure marketers to save its linear TV business, and in another it's fighting a merger that would expand its linear TV business.

The bigger picture: A volatile media landscape is forcing rapid consolidation among media networks, tech companies and telecom providers. CBS wants to maintain its linear TV business, which brings in billions of advertising dollars, while also setting itself up for the future of TV: digital streaming.

  • The lawsuit, which CBS dropped spontaneously Monday, catching Redstone off guard, is meant to give CBS the freedom it wants to make merger decisions independently.
  • Sources tell Axios CBS would much rather tie its future to a company with a distribution arm, like a tech or telecom company, than a cable network like Viacom with long-tail channels that they think would bring it down in future retransmission fights with Pay-TV providers.

CBS also announced its new primetime lineup ahead of its Upfront presentation Wednesday, adding eight new series (five for the fall) and the return of the popular show ""Murphy Brown."

  • CBS' goal for the presentation is to tout its new primetime programming, the success of its longtime sports business, and its newer streaming businesses — CBS All Access and CBS Sports HQ.