No matter how many times execs at the CW, and at its co-owner CBS, explain to TV critics that the model for CW is different than for a traditional broadcast network, and no matter how many times they describe that CW is just one of many platforms for the network’s programming, the media continues to mull how can the lights possibly stay on at CW given its itty-bitty ratings. Itty bitty as in: Were CW a cable network, no one would think twice over — especially if one of the shows was written by Lena Dunham. Anyway, this morning it was CBS Corp CEO Leslie Moonves’ turn to take the question, appearing at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2013 to fill in for CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler, who had to bow out for personal reasons. Appearing onstage at the tour for the first time since 2005, Moonves showed he hadn’t lost his touch — first nicking the TV critic who asked the question for having prefaced it with a beauty-pageant question about CBS network’s great season.  “So, one softball, and one pitch thrown straight at my head?” Moonves snarked jovially. He then explained patiently that while CW may run in the red, the two companies that own the network, CBS and Warner Bros, also produce virtually all the shows and CW is just one play for those programs,  and the shows go on to make money for those two companies — enough to more than offset CW’s losses. “It’s still valuable,” Moonves said.

Related: TCA: Moonves Says Talks With Time Warner Cable Continue, “I Hope We Don’t Go Dark”