New York -- Steve Mosko, president of Sony Pictures
Television, says he's bullish on the future of the broadcasting business, and
supports the current ecosystem of retrans compensation for networks.
"If more money is pouring into local stations, and the
networks make money through cable, that's great for our business," he told the
crowd during a Q&A led by B&C Editor-in-Chief Ben Grossman at B&C/Multichannel News' OnScreen Media Summit here Thursday. "Because
that means we're not solely dependent on ad revenues.
He added, "I'm a huge believer in the broadcasting business;
it's where I started. I would hate to see local TV stations go away because
they weren't able to share that pot."
That's not to say that things in the broadcasting business --
and at the studios like Sony that provide their programming -- haven't changed.
Mosko noted that 10 years ago, Sony would produce 24 pilots a year, which is no
longer the case.
"There are a lot of studios that still do 24. For our studio
it's hard to do 24 shows well," he said. "So when we changed our model
somewhat, we basically said that we're going to do fewer shows better and do
shows we really think can make it to series and make it to the four or five
years that we make money in syndication."
The trick, Mosko said, besides striking gold with a hit
sitcom like Seinfeld, is to manage the entire cost of your business, know where
to take big bets, and not throw money against bad ideas. It's a philosophy
Mosko has applied at Sony to make fewer, better pilots.
"As you look at network shows, pilots are very expensive,"
he said. "If people are spending $5-10 million on pilots, if you go the cheap
route, I can guarantee you that you spend $3 million in wasted money because
when you put it against a $6 million pilot, you lose. If you're going to play
the game, you've got to invest. But you've got to pick the right places to
This fall Sony invested big on the period drama Pan Am, a very expensive
"It had to be, because we wanted it to look right," Mosko
said. "We knew if we wanted it to be a big show, we had to spend the money."
While the future of the show is in jeopardy at ABC, who will
bench the series at midseason, Mosko said it has sold well internationally, and
that the international revenue for Pan Am is almost twice the network revenue.