Moonves: The Good We Do


Excerpt from a speech delivered by CBS CEO Moonves at a recent American Jewish Congress testimonial dinner

Between what CBS faced with the Jacksons and the FCC and issues that have come up at other networks, there have been questions raised about how we conduct our business. We are extremely mindful of the communities and the public we proudly serve. At CBS, our mission goes well beyond entertainment. We're trying to use television's power to inform, enlighten, and empower our viewers. Our commitment to public service is reflected in our programming, our dedication to news, and our involvement in our communities. By presenting a diverse set of ideas and issues, we can spark discussions and create understanding.

The characters on our shows are intended to mirror real-life Americans. We'd be doing a great disservice if they didn't deal with real-life situations, like alcoholism, drug abuse, health issues, and racism. Yet sometimes, we need a more direct approach. This is where we turn to Public Service Announcements. We reserve our own airtime, which we'd normally sell to our advertisers, because we believe PSAs benefit our audience.

They deal with a range of issues, including child welfare, diversity, medical, and mental-health issues. In 2002, the commercial time we used for PSAs would have brought in more than $211 million if it had been sold to Coke or Pepsi—or that most controversial product of all: politicians running for office. But we think it's smart business to give back to the community. It's not all about the bottom line.

As a broadcaster, it is our job to serve the entire population—not just one or two groups of people, not special interest, everyone. This country is made up of people from a wide array of backgrounds. In order to reach the diverse nature of our communities, we strive to have diverse voices throughout the company—both on-camera and behind the scenes. And we have another way of serving the public: It's called CBS News.

CBS News produces 17 hours of national news each week. Through the House that Murrow built, we have the ability to provide insights that can empower people, change lives, improve lives, and sometimes even save lives. Just as important is the local news that serves their towns and cities. This is a corporation that at every level believes in using its strength to bring about social change.

Thanks to our size and reach, Viacom is able to use its vast media assets to touch people with messages that are meaningful and informative. A case in point: Viacom and the Kaiser Family Foundation recently entered the second year of an unprecedented global media campaign geared toward education about HIV and AIDS.

Twenty-five PSAs were created last year for our Know HIV/AIDS campaign and broadcast on every TV outlet Viacom owns, including CBS, UPN, 39 local TV stations, 185 radio stations, MTV, VH1, BET, and Nickelodeon. In addition, we also incorporated HIV- and AIDS-based storylines into several of our programs, which were seen by more than 50 million.

Now, that's true power, and we use that power to bring about positive change. We understand we have a social responsibility to the citizens of our nation. Yes, we deserve some knocks. We get them every day. But please remember what else the media is doing.