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TCA: Moonves Says CBS 'Open to Any Way of Doing Business'

CompleteCoverage: TCA Summer Press Tour 2013

Los Angeles -- CBS may be the network achieving the most
success under the traditional broadcast model, but that doesn't mean it's not open
to new models, said CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves at the TCA press tour on

"We are traditional in how we approach the business. We still move.
We're pretty nimble, and we look at what's happening, and we're able to
make the appropriate deals," said Moonves, who led
CBS' executive session in place of CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler,
who was unable to attend due to the death of a close friend. "So as much as we are a traditional network and we are, and we're very
profitable doing that we still are open to any way of doing
business, as long as we can put on good shows and make it profitable."

He pointed to experimental models like this summer's Under the Dome,
which sold in-season streaming rights to Amazon; its syndication deal for The
Good Wife
, which includes a Netflix component; and Hostages, which
got a 15-episode order. Moonves said he still expected the traditional model
"to be sustainable for a long time....When it achieves the level of the NCIS's or more of our traditional shows, then the world will have changed."

And even for shows that employ a different business model, the network would
still like to produce as many seasons as possible. " We didn't put [Hostages] on just to have 15 episodes," Moonves said. "We put it on to have
multiple seasons of it."  As for Dome, whichwas just renewed for a second season, Moonves expressed confidence the
story line could be extended for many seasons. "Why can't they be under
the dome for a long period of time? This is television," he quipped.

Other highlights from CBS' executive session included:

  • Unsurprisingly, the first question Moonves fielded was about
    the status of CBS' standoff with Time Warner Cable over retransmission fees,
    which faces a Monday at 5 p.m. ET deadline. "I really don't want to negotiate in public. That's probably not the
    best way to do it," he said, noting he had been on the phone negotiating as recently as 15 minutes prior.
    "It's a very difficult negotiation... I hope we don't
    go dark. Conversations are happening between a lot of people today."
  • Big Brother has drawn much attention this summer for the racist and
    offensive comments made by some houseguests, forcing the network to run
    disclaimers at the beginning of the program. "It was established as a social experiment. Clearly that's what's
    happening this year," he said. "I find some of the behavior absolutely appalling,
    personally. What you see there, I think it, unfortunately, is
    reflective of how certain people feel in America. It's what our show
    is. I think we've handled it properly."
  • Despite NBC's decision to dump its aging late night star Jay Leno (again) in
    2014, Moonves said CBS remains committed to David Letterman. "I consider David
    Letterman the best guy in late night. We love having him," he said. "We like
    the stability, we like the relationship with have with Dave. Contrary to
    popular belief, we don't like drama at 11:30."
  • While Moonves said "we expect to hopefully continue with [Amazon] in the
    future," on the streaming deal for Under the Dome, it is not looking to
    acquire a stake in a technology company like Netflix, just as it declined to
    join the other broadcast networks in Hulu. "It's something that we've never
    considered," he said.
  • Daytime soaps have been decimated in recent years, but Moonves said he is
    behind CBS' two remaining entries, The Bold and the Beautiful and Young
    and the Restless
    , touting growth among those and CBS' three other daytime
    shows this year. "They're doing well, they're profitable," he said. "We believe
    those two soaps will be on for a long, long time. We don't think the model is
  • CBS This Morning and the CBS Evening News are still in third
    place in the ratings, but Moonves applauded their year-over-year growth saying,
    "Yeah, they're still in third but qualitatively they're so much better than
    they have been before," he said. "It takes a long time to turn around these
    battleships. I couldn't be happier with both those broadcasts both ratings-wise
    and quality-wise."