Moonves sees post-strike cost savings, retrans cash


Declaring pilots “vastly overrated” and a poor indicator of whether or not a proposed series will be a hit, CBS Corporation CEO Les Moonves told Wall Street analysts that the company will be doing fewer deals and shooting fewer pilots going forward – permanent changes resulting from the lessons learned during the three-month writers strike. And while CBS will be staging an upfront at Carnegie Hall, Moonves said it will have fewer bells and whistles than in the past. Also, there will be no affiliate meeting. But while the WGA strike lasted longer than he had expected, Moonves assured Wall Street that it had not negatively impacted the financial picture at CBS.

Something that is affecting the financial picture at CBS, but in a positive way, is retransmission consent. Moonves restated his intention to be paid by cable systems for carrying the programming of the CBS O&O television stations. He said deals have been done with about 20 operators, although negotiations with the largest MSOs are still ahead. Yes, Moonves said in answer to one analyst’s question, CBS would consider alternatives such as the VOD deal that ABC cut with Cox Communications, but his primary focus is on cash.
Q4 revenues for the television division at CBS were down 4% to 2.46 billion, owing to station divestitures and the lack of political advertising. TV OIBDA declined 6% to 501.6 million.