Report: Moonves Says CBS OK On Its Own

CBS Chief Squashes Deal Speculation
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CBS CEO Les Moonves tried to squelch consistent talk that the broadcaster is actively looking for a partner, adding that the network is doing fine on its own.

In recent months speculation has been high that CBS would rejoin with its former corporate partner Viacom, hook up with NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament partner Time Warner Inc., or seek out another megadeal to improve its clout.

On CNBC’s Squawk Box on Friday, Moonves said that CBS believes it has “plenty of clout in the marketplace,” adding that after the breakup with Viacom in 2006, the broadcaster “came out just fine.”

And though CBS already is a partner with Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting Systems for the “March Madness” NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, he noted that both companies are doing well on their own.

“There’s always a lot of noise, [and] there’s especially more noise now because there is consolidation of distribution companies, or potentially with Comcast and Time Warner Cable,” Moonves said on the program. Having said that, both companies are doing extremely well as standalones. Right now we’re very happy being alone. ”

While Moonves is correct in stressing that with rights to National Football League games, the NCAA Tournament and other tent-pole programming CBS has more than enough clout with distributors,  the speculation around a Viacom deal has always been that pairing up with the broadcaster would be better for the cable networks, which have weathered some steep ratings declines. Add to the mix uncertainty around the health of Viacom and CBS’s executive chairman and largest shareholder 91-year-old Sumner Redstone, and the speculation that big changes could be afoot is not totally unreasonable.

Nevertheless, investors appeared pleased that Moonves isn’t hunting for a big deal, driving CBS stock up almost 3% ($1.50 per share) to $57.50 each earlier in the day. Shares closed at $56.71 each on Feb. 6, up 1.3% or 71 cents per share.

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