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Moonves: Digital Rights Worth Fighting For

An important aspect of its month-long battle
with Time Warner Cable was securing the digital future of content, CBS CEO Les
Moonves said.

"It was important we
take a stand. This is a stand about content and how content is sold and how it
goes to our consumers and how it will be sold in the future when digital
viewing could eclipse more traditional forms of television," Moonves said
in an appearance on CNBC Wednesday morning.

CBS and Time Warner
Cable reached an agreement and CBS programming was restored to Time Warner
Cable subscribers Monday evening.

Terms of the deal
were not disclosed, but Moonves said: "One of the things we won, one of the
things we were fighting for, is the ability to slice and dice our content all
over the place. To put it on Netflix, to put it on Amazon, to let people binge
view. That's our inherent right to do that," he said.

Moonves said that
was important as viewing via digital sources increases and potentially
surpasses traditional distribution.

"I've been in the
network television business for 30 years. I've been hearing about the death of
network television and the death of our product. That's not happening. It's
just changing," he said. "Is it evolving? Absolutely. But at the core it's
still creating hits for both network and cable."

Moonves noted that
young viewers on college campuses have few TVs and watch their shows online.
"But they are getting measure, we are putting more advertising in, we are
getting paid for that," he said.

"The important thing
is exactly that. At the point-and that point is coming very soon-where the
advertising [rates] online will be the same as they are on the network, we
don't care where you watch the shows." He put that timeframe as within 3 to 5

Moonves said that
overall, he was "very pleased with the deal" with Time Warner Cable. He said
that he understood that the public probably resented both sides, but that it
was important to get fair value for the top rated broadcast network from cable
operators via retransmission consent.

He insisted that
CBS' demands were reasonable, labeling Time Warner Cable as a company that
"resented the fact that a broadcast network should get paid."

He added that Time
Warner Cable "was "looking back at a day that was gone 20 years ago that no
longer exists where networks are over the air and free and everyone should be
able to have them."

Moonves said that he
prefers CBS to be available over the air, but that if companies like web-based
Aereo and Time Warner Cable find ways not to pay for CBS content, it might have
to cease broadcast and become a pay channel.

"We could do that if
we were placed into a corner because of business reasons because of an Aereo or
a Time Warner Cable saying they don't want to pay us," he said. "I think it is
highly doubtful that that will ever happen but that threat is out there."

Moonves was asked
about Time Warner Cable's call for the government to review retransmission
rules in the wake of the long CBS blackout.  "To get the government
involved is by far a really dumb thing. That's the last thing we want to do."