“We can’t expect consumers to come to us,” says Quincy Smith, the president of CBS Interactive. “It’s arrogant for any media company to assume that.”

As Jeff Harvis puts it: The smartest media quote of the year. And it shows clearly that CBS goes through with a “smarter-than-most strategy for a distributed media economy.”

Judging by this Wall Street Journal article, the CBS may be one of the first big stations to get it right, or to be at least on the right track:

CBS, after a year of experimenting with various Web initiatives, says that forcing consumers to come to one site — its own — to view video hasn’t worked. Instead, the company plans to pursue a drastically revised strategy that involves syndicating its entertainment, news and sports video to as much of the Web as possible. (…)

Starting this week, an expanded menu of CBS’s video content will be available for free to consumers on as many as 10 different Web sites ranging from Time Warner Inc.’s AOL to Joost.(…)

That’s a clear goodbye to the old scheme of trying to keep it all under close control. (And by “it all”, I mean: All content, all users, and all the ways to use the content user come up with.)

Just put it out there for your users to distribute it. What’s true for books applies to TV content as well: Personal recommendations are the most powerful way to spread your stuff. Word-of-mouth is what you want, so don’t fight it. Instead, enable it by giving up a little bit of control. It’ll feel strange at first, but you’ll see you like it.

(Just for laughs, check out Stuart Elliott’s NYT article about the hilariously dumb things other stations come up with to keep watchers from leaving their TiVoing their shows and from switching channels during ad breaks.)

(via BuzzMachine)