Moonves to Gov’t: Keep Out

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New York — CBS chief Leslie Moonves said that while
he doesn’t know the exact details of the Fox-Cablevision
Systems standoff , one thing he does know is that the government
should stay out of it.

“We still think it’s unfair the USA Network gets paid
more [by cable operators] than the CBS network, but we
don’t think the government should be involved; the companies
should settle it themselves,” he said. “We need to
remember that 99% of these get solved quietly. The FCC
or government getting involved in any way, shape or form
would be a mistake. The system works just fine.”

Moonves made the comments at the 2010 Multichannel
News/Broadcasting & Cable
OnScreen Media Summit at
the Marriott Marquis here last Thursday (Oct. 28).

Moonves did comment on the Fox-Cablevision deal that
has stretched into the World Series, but offered little detail.

“I don’t know what the dispute is or how far apart they
are,” he said. “Nobody likes to see a dispute like this, and
we don’t know the details ... I think it’s pretty obvious
which side of this dispute I am on.”

Moonves also took the opportunity to sound his familiar
refrain that broadcast television is still in a strong position.

“Two of the networks are down, two of the networks are
up from last year. Network television works if you know
what you are doing,” he said. “We are looking at higher
profits than we have seen in a long, long time. The upfronts
were extremely strong across the board. ... The scatter market
is going to be phenomenal. There are a lot less makegoods
for us.”

Ben Grossman is editor in chief of Broadcasting &