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Moonves Says 'Maybe' to CBS-CNN Deal #TCA14

Beverly Hills, Calif.--CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves is open to the possibility of his company purchasing CNN, but said acquiring Time Warner is out of the question.

“We’re too small,” to pull off a Time Warner deal, Moonves said Thursday at CBS’ TCA summer press tour party. “Our market cap’s $35 billion. Time Warner’s is 70 [bilion].” Asked, however, if CBS might make a play for Time Warner-owned cable network CNN, Moonves replied, “Maybe. Maybe.”

This week reports emerged that Time Warner turned down an $80 billion purchase offer from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. According to the New York Times, which first reported on the offer Wednesday, any Fox-Time Warner deal would not include news network CNN—a prime competitor to Murdoch’s Fox News—which would be sold off to a third party to appease regulators. CBS and CNN have reportedly discussed combining news operations multiple times in the past, most recently in 2010, but have never been able to finalize an agreement.

Moonves also speculated about Fox’s motivations in pursuing Time Warner.

“I think the Murdoch play is about sports,” he said. “If this happens, he’s going to have the NBA, Major League Baseball, college basketball, pro basketball, NFL, and the World Cup—and his sports cable channels.”

Moonves added, “I never bet against Rupert Murdoch. I learned that a long time ago.”