CBS' Moonves Defends Broadcast Model

Speaking at the Bank of America-Merrill Lynch media conference, CBS Corp. chief says company may do small acquisitions

CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves again defended the broadcast network model saying that success is simply about putting on the best shows. Speaking at the Bank of America-Merrill Lynch media conference September 10, he said: "People say network TV is cyclical; we've won eight of the last nine years. I really believe if you put on good shows they will come."

Following a question about cable companies increasing their spending on programming, Moonves said: "Cable companies don't take away from us...They have two or three original shows, we have 19 hours on every week between news, reality comedy and dramas. It's sort of a different ball game."

He continued, "The top cable shows are three, four, five million people. That's not close to what American Idol does or even a third of what CSI is doing." He finished by saying the "network business is going to be fine."

When asked about CBS Corp's future plans for its cash, Moonves declined to discuss the subject. "It's too early to say, there are a lot of opportunities to do things and I'm not going to state anything right now." On the subject of acquisitions he said there may be some things that might work within the company's six content areas. He described them as: news and tech, entertainment, sports, games, music and international. "We could see tuck in acquisitions that would fit in with those."

Finally, touching on the TV ad market, Moonves said fourth quarter would be better than last year and added that Super Bowl sales were going well with Anheuser-Busch locked in. "Ratings are up, advertising is up and costs are down," said interviewer and Bank of America Securities-Merrill Lynch Research Analyst Jessica-Reif Cohen; to which Moonves jokingly responded. "Life is beautiful," before candidly concluding, "Its been a rough year, there is no denying."