CBS will fight take the Federal Communications Commission to court if it tries to fine the network over the Janet Jackson Super bowl reveal.
That was the word from Viacom Inc. Co-President Les Moonves to TV critics over the weekend.
Moonves says Viacom plans to “vigorously defend our right to produce content that some may deem too controversial.” While Moonves said Viacom’s relationship with the FCC is important, he said the potential fine is “patently ridiculous and we’ll take it to court if we need to.”
In his new job, Moonves not only has to defend before Congress and the FCC the choices of CBS, but also of radio company Infinity. To that end, Moonves said he hasn’t personally talked to shock jock Howard Stern but he does expect Stern to renew his contract with Infinity.
Moonves was happy to not be in the center of a television controversy for once.
With NBC and ABC taking Fox to task last week for allegedly stealing other networks’ reality show concepts and rushing the copycat programs to air, CBS executives are “taking out our popcorn and enjoying the fight that’s going on. I hope they kill each other,” Moonves joke during his session of summer press tour in Century City on Sunday. “I’m not happy with what Fox has done, but he who is without sin....
“This is a very tough, competitive game,” Moonves continued, "It’s not a clean game. Those who are faint of heart should go work somewhere else.”
While CBS has managed to stay out of this fray, the network has had its share of reality controversies, with rural groups protesting CBS’s plan to air a reality version of Beverly Hillbillies before the show was ever even cast and members of Congress currently objecting to CBS sister network UPN’s Amish in the City, which the network will show reporters on Tuesday.
Moonves refused to address questions about Amish in the City on Sunday, leaving that for UPN’s day on stage, but did say that it’s not a member of Congress’ job to screen television programs and decide whether they are appropriate to air. “That’s my job,” Moonves said.
Moonves also refused to comment on whether CBS was considering bringing Jorja Fox and George Eads back to CSI, although the “no comment” left the question open. CBS fired Fox and Eads—who each made $2.2 million a year, according to sources—after they failed to show up for work last Thursday.
“This behavior has to stop if people in network television—agents, managers and actors—want to stay in business. Four out of six of these businesses are losing money and that’s not good business,” Moonves said.
CBS is considering other actors for Fox’s and Eads’ roles, and has delayed production for a week while the executive producers rework scripts and shooting schedules.
The changes won’t affect CSI’s premiere date, which will come during the week of Sept. 20, like most of CBS’s fall schedule. Survivor will premiere early, on Thursday, Sept. 16, and Cold Case will premiere late, on Sunday, Oct. 3. CBS’ Tuesday night, comprised of NCIS, Clubhouse and Judging Amy, will launch on Sept. 28, with Clubhouse getting a preview on Sunday, July 26 at 8.