The CBS CEO tells the UBS Media Conference that he’s happy that the prospective new controlling owner of NBC understands the important of getting retrans payments from cable and satellite operators. “I imagine [Comcast CEO] Brian Roberts will be paying himself for NBC,” he says. He also says CBS expects to share in the retrans revenue of its affiliates.
CBS CEO Les Moonves said today that he is pleased that Comcast is interested in developing a second revenue stream for NBC by seeking retransmission consent payments from cable and satellite operators.
“I love the fact that the Comcast guys are saying, yes, retransmission consent should be paid,” Moonves said at the UBS Media Conference in New York today. “They are absolutely right. We believe in that and we think that is terrific.”
“I imagine Brian Roberts will be paying himself for NBC,” he said.
Of the Big Four networks, CBS was the first to seek retransmission consent fees — payments from cable and satellite in exchange for their being able to carry the CBS O&Os. CBS began talking about it four year ago.
The other networks have lined up behind CBS, recognizing that the broadcast networks need the same second revenue stream that cable networks enjoy from license fees.
“We are glad Fox is out in the field very vocally about this, Moonves said. “[Disney CEO] Bob Iger has talked about it as well for ABC.”
At the same time CBS is negotiating with cable and satellite about fees for the CBS O&Os, it is talking to CBS affiliates about sharing the retrans revenue they are getting.
He suggested that CBS and its affiliates could negotiate together and then split the take.
“Any way you look at it, there should be sharing of retrans fees from the affiliates to us … in that the MSOs are buying the network programming, by and large,” he said.
“They are not paying retrans necessarily to watch Judge Judy. Not that Judge Judy is bad. She’s ours; we love her. But they are buying the NFL. They are buying CSI. They are buying 60 Minutes and David Letterman.”
Overall, Moonves said that Comcast’s deal to acquire a controlling 51-percent stake in NBCU from General Electric is “pretty exciting.”
The deal is the biggest media deal since the merger of Time Warner and AOL 10 years ago, he said. “I’m sure that [Comcast CEO Brian Roberts] … expects it to come out better than that one did.”
The deal cuts two ways for CBS, he said. NBCU is a competitor to CBS, but it is also a client, buying off-network programming for its USA Network. “It underlines how valuable content is and that is the good news for us.”