Moonves: Network TV "Ain't Broken"

CBS Corp. chief Leslie Moonves tells UBS media confab "you can still make a lot of money in network TV."
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Complete Coverage: UBS Global Media and Communications Conference

CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves says the network-TV business isn’t over.

"I'm here to tell you that the model ain’t broken,” said Moonves, speaking Wednesday at the UBS Global Media & Communications Conference in New York. “You can still make a lot of money in network TV.”

Moonves’ remarks came two days after NBC Universal president/CEO Jeff Zucker spoke at the UBS confab, stressing the need to “rethink what a broadcast network is today.”

In a pointed reference, Moonves added, "certain people are having audience erosion, some are not. We are not."

On the advertising front, Moonves said the company could have capitalized on its strong ratings but scatter pricing and volume was low. However, whatever money was out there was coming to CBS, which had no make-goods.

"The old fuddy-duddy network is winning 18-49. If scatter was stronger—was as strong as it should be—we'd be able to capitalize more,” he said, adding, "We really need the autos to come back."

Separately, CBS expects to make an announcement on the retransmission front. "We expect north of $200 million dropping from retrans,” Moonves said. "We are guardedly optimistic it is going well."

While he expressed support for the affiliate system, Moonves said things may change. "People ask, ‘Why not break the bond with the affiliates and go directly to cable.’ It is something that down the road could happen"

Noting that CBS wins the 10 p.m. hour and monetizes that content 12 different ways, Moonves remarked on NBC’s announcement that Jay Leno will remain at the network and host a new primetime show in that hour: "We view it as a plus for us. It’s taking the third competitor out of the marketplace and that will make us stronger."

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