CBS answers the Leno threat

Multichannel TV is just one of the temptations consumers have to handle. There’s downloadable programming, console games, YouTube and a zillion other web-based sites which tempt people away from watching network TV. But CBS boss Les Moonves (pictured, left) told a UBS media conference that there’s still good money in network broadcasting. Moreover he welcomed the addition of comic Jay Leno to the NBC 10pm slot.

His optimistic words must have sounded like Manna from Heaven, especially to Viacom’s Sumner Redstone, given the ever-gloomy forecasts of dwindling advertising and vanishing audiences being suffered by commercial broadcasters throughout the Western world.

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

Moonves’ comments came just hours after NBC Universal president/CEO Jeff Zucker spoke at the same event arguing that executives needed to “rethink what a broadcast network is today.” Moonves pulled no punches, and while not referring to Mr Zucker by name, said that certain people are having audience erosion, but some are not. “We are not.”

Staying on his advertising theme, Moonves said CBS could have further capitalized on its strong ratings but scatter pricing and overall volume was low. "The old fuddy-duddy network [his own CBS] is winning 18-49. We really need the autos to come back."

Noting that CBS steadily wins the 10 pm primetime hour and monetizes that content 12 different ways, Mr Moonves, commenting on the news that Jay Leno would be placed head-to-head with his own network in the 10pm slot, said: “We view it as a plus for us. It’s taking the third competitor out of the marketplace and that will make us stronger."