Bigtime lobbying efforts certainly aren’t merely reserved for the halls and haunts of Washington DC. A new report out today from the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission outlined issues that lobbying firms spent the most billable hours working on in LA during the first quarter of 2013. Among them was NBCUniversal’s “Evolution Plan,” the proposed $1.6B upgrade of its TV production facilities, office space and infrastructure on the Universal lot and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter area at its Universal Studios Hollywood theme park. The report says NBCUniversal paid more than $330,000 to a pair of lobbying outfits to win hearts and votes for its mammoth undertaking. Another big buyer of lobbying services at City Hall was CBS Outdoor, the CBS Corp-owned billboard giant that spent more than $205,000 to back its interests in outdoor advertising legislation, including the local hot-button issue of digital billboards. And LA Live owner AEG paid $130,000-plus for its quarter worth of lobbying efforts. Hollywood.
As we scooped earlier this month, CBS Corp today announced it has wholly acquired TV Guide Digital, which includes the TVGuide.com and TV Guide Mobile properties. Under terms of the deal, CBS Corp acquired the remaining 50% stake in TV Guide Digital shares from Lionsgate. The two companies continue as 50/50 partners in the TVGN cable network per their March 26 agreement.
TVGuide.com had been valued at about $20 million, and I hear CBS paid a little shy of $10 million for Lionsgate’s half. I hear DirecTV had been in exclusive negotiations to acquire TVGuide.com, but the talks did not result in a deal. CBS then decided to step in and incorporate TVGuide.com and the TV Guide Mobile apps into CBS Interactive’s Technology, Games and Lifestyle group, which operates similarly TV-focused TV.com as well as CNET, GameSpot, Last.fm, MetroLyrics, Metacritic and CHOW brands, among others. “TV Guide is one of the most-enduring and iconic brands in the world of television and video, and we’re proud to welcome TV Guide Digital to the CBS Interactive family,” said Jim Lanzone, President of CBS Interactive. Here are some stats from CBS’ press release:
Les Moonves is out to get Aereo by any means necessary, but he “doesn’t lose sleep over it,” the CBS Corp president and CEO told the Milken Institute’s Global Conference today. “Barry Diller has done what he likes to do, disrupt things,” Moonves added. However, the CBS chief did say that if the situation couldn’t be resolved in the courts, he is more than willing to take CBS to cable. “We can do it in a few days. If we go to cable, if we are forced to, then about 10% of America will not get our signal and I don’t think they will like that,” Moonves said Tuesday. The CBS chief said that with around 2,000 subscribers in NYC, the “illegal” Aereo won’t hurt the network but that he still intends to shut them down. “We will go after them in the courts and if that doesn’t work there are other remedies. There are financial remedies; there are congressional remedies.” On Monday at the conference, IAC CEO Diller said that CBS and the other broadcasters suing Aereo want Congress to save them if their copyright infringement suits fail. Fox and Univision have also threatened to move to cable if Aereo prevails.
CBS Corp. just announced that it is acquiring 50% of of TV Guide, the company that encompasses TVGN (formerly TV Guide Network) and TVGuide.com. The deal adds a basic cable network to its TV portfolio, which includes broadcast networks (CBS and the CW), a pay cable network (Showtime), international TV channels, a TV studio and syndication unit. As we first reported on Friday, CBS is taking over the TV Guide stake held by One Equity Partners, the private-equity arm of J.P. Morgan Chase, which owned 49% of the company, with an option to buy another 1%. CBS is said to be paying about $100 million, less than the $122 million OEP spent in June 2009. CBS joins TVGN co-owner Lionsgate Entertainment. Here is the release:
EXCLUSIVE: CBS Corp, which already owns/co-owns broadcast networks CBS and the CW, pay cable network Showtime, and international TV channels, is adding a domestic basic cable network to its portfolio. I’ve learned that it is nearing a …
UPDATE, 3:16 PM: Is Les Moonves now, once again, Dan Rather’s boss? Well, a little: Turns out CBS isn’t simply partnering with AXS TV– as the companies framed the arrangement in their announcement today. The network giant has an equity stake in the channel formerly known as HDNet, Moonves told analysts this evening. He didn’t say how much CBS owns of the network which airs Dan Rather Reports or how much it paid, if anything. “Having the power of CBS I’m sure we’ll be able to increase [AXS TV's] affiliate fees, but it won’t be part of our negotiations,” he said. Moonves added that entrepreneur Mark Cuban’s channel will be able to offer “shoulder programming” for live events CBS airs; for example it could have had a show featuring backstage scenes at the Grammy Awards. “It’s a very exciting new prospect for us.” Cuban’s partners at AXS include AEG, Ryan Seacrest Media and Creative Artists Agency.
Here’s the release:
Listen to the latest episode of Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman podcast here. This week, Deadline Executive Editor Lieberman and host David Bloom discuss what this week’s presidential election may mean for Big Media companies and Hollywood; why Time Warner doesn’t want to create its own broadband subscription channel; and why the CEOs of Disney and CBS are pushing to measure TV ratings over a full week, even as Lionsgate’s boss wants to have some “adjustments” in such an idea.
CBS Corp veteran Scott Koondel will be tasked with maximizing revenue from the licensing and distribution of content from all of the company’s business units including CBS Studios, CBS Television Network, CBS News, Showtime, CBS Films and CBS Interactive. He also will seek out opportunities to optimize the value of programming assets associated with CBS’ interest in The CW and the CBS library. Koondel will report to CBS Corp EVP and CFO Joseph Ianniello.
Things could have been better in a quarter when ad revenues fell 3% — but the end result wasn’t bad. CBS Corp ended up with net income of $391M, +15.7% vs the period last year, on revenues of $3.42B, +1.6%. The revenue figure was slightly shy of the Street’s expectation of $3.49B. But if you factor out a $57M debt repayment, earnings would have come in at 65 cents a share, ahead of forecasts for 61 cents. The Entertainment unit topped most expectations with $1.68B in revenue (+2.9%) and operating income of $346M (-5.5%). The company says that ad sales were down due to competition from the London Olympics, and pre-emptions for the political conventions. But the unit benefited from higher license fees for its programming, and rising retransmission payments from cable and satellite companies. At the Cable Networks, which include Showtime and CBS Sports Network, revenues came in at $436M (+3.8%) with operating income of $221M (+12.2%). License fees were down from last year, when CBS had new streaming video deals, but that was more than covered by rising affiliate and subscription fees.
It had long been thought that after a falling out with his daughter years ago that Viacom and CBS Corp chairman Sumner Redstone would hand over the keys to his empire to Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman. But the 89-year-old Redstone told the Wall Street Journal that he’s still deciding on who will replace him to oversee his controlling interest in both companies, and that “my family will ultimately inherit the business”. “It hasn’t been decided yet who will be my successor. And Philippe knows it”, the mogul told the WSJ in an interview published today. “He knows that Shari might be my successor and it’s not a competitive race between them. We have to see what happens.” Shari Redstone, 58, controls 20% of National Amusements, the holding company that controls Viacom and CBS Corp, with her father holding the rest of the stake. Combined, their holdings in Viacom and CBS are worth about $3.5 billion, the paper says. “Philippe understands that my family is important and it could be Shari. I don’t say it will be. It could be either one or both,” Redstone said, adding later that it is likely Dauman would inherit his chairman role at Viacom and that CBS CEO Les Moonves would become chairman of CBS (though after the WSJ interview, Redstone emailed the paper to say that the boards of the companies will “ultimately decide who becomes chairman of each company”).
Leslie Moonves will be at the helm of CBS Corp for at least five more years. As had been speculated, the company announced today that Moonves has signed a new agreement to continue as president and CEO through June 30, 2017. Moonves’ existing contract was to expire in February 2015 and gave him an option to segue into a role as an executive adviser or CBS-based producer at the end of his term. That contract has now been ripped up and replaced by the new one, which also provides an option for Moonves to become a CBS executive adviser for four years and launch a CBS-funded production company when it’s up. The new contract will bring Moonves’ tenure at CBS to 22 years — he joined the broadcast network in 1995 as president of entertainment. “Leslie’s record as a CEO is not only among the best in media, it’s among the best in all of business,” said Sumner Redstone, CBS Corp’s executive chairman and founder. “This agreement secures the Company even further into the future, and it also further aligns and strengthens the interests of the chief executive with those of our shareholders.”
The TV community knows that CBS Corp President and CEO Les Moonves wants to broadcast the Golden Globes. But a judge this summer ruled that the Globes broadcast rights are controlled by Dick Clark Productions …