CBS is still not seeing any signs of an advertising slowdown, CEO Les Moonves told an investors' conference Wednesday.
"I know people are saying it should be slowing down; we're just not seeing it," Moonves said at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment conference. "I know the economy is suffering right now," he added, "Smart guys realize the way to cut back is not by reducing advertising."
Moonves said that upfront "holds" are being converted into firm orders at the same rates as last year. Those advertisers that left were quickly replaced at higher rates. Other upfront advertisers are increasing their orders and new advertisers are coming into the scatter market.
He said he expects CBS to do well in the scatter market in the fourth quarter and first quarter because CBS has only five new shows in its lineup, while its rivals have more new shows on their schedules.
He's also expecting political advertising to be a big factor in 2012. "Judging from the climate that's out there, there is going to be such a huge amount of money spent. 2012 is going to break records and outdo 2010 by a considerable amount," he said. "It may not be good for the country, but it's going to be good for CBS."
CBS also has revenue coming in from retransmission-consent agreements with cable, satellite and telco distributors, as well as from reverse compensation deals with affiliates. Moonves said he expected reverse compensation to reach meaningful levels of revenue in 2014 and 2015. "Next month we'll announce a significant deal with a big affiliate. It's concluded," he said. "It's a substantial deal because they have already negotiated their deals with the MSOs and we're going to be sharing that with them."