EXCLUSIVE: Watch Les Moonves Deposition

By | Wednesday February 1, 2012 @ 2:01pm PST

EXCLUSIVE… UPDATE: Deadline has obtained exclusively Les Moonves’ video-taped deposition from September 1, 2011, in the Golden Globes trial. Four-parter:

PART ONE

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PART TWO

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PART THREE

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PART FOUR

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Les Moonves Says CBS “Stronger Than It’s Ever Been”: UBS Confab

When CBS chief Les Moonves appears at an investor event like this week’s UBS Annual Global Media and Communications Conference, they should just get him an orchestra and a spotlight so he can sing “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” “Everybody calls me a cheerleader but network television’s doing better than it’s done in many years,” he told analysts today. He says that CBS’ prices for ads in the scatter market are up “in the mid-teens” over the upfront, although “our competitors are doing not as well.” Heading into the holiday season ”demand is picking up again” and few are cancelling upfront orders for early 2012. “When you look at where our ratings are, you don’t want to cancel a CBS show because (later on) you’ll pay more.” To underscore his confidence in CBS’ finances, he threw some red meat to investors: ”Could we raise the dividend (next year)? That’s a possibility.”

He’s encouraged by the additional dollars flowing to the network from retransmission consent deals with pay TV distributors, and reverse compensation payments to CBS from its affiliates. If a local station balked at shelling out cash to CBS — which used to pay stations to carry its shows — then Moonves would consider yanking the affiliation agreement. But he says that’s unlikely because CBS’ strong primetime line up ”is making them a lot of money” by delivering large audiences to local newscasts. Meanwhile, he’d like the FCC not to require that network programming remain on pay TV when distributors balk at retransmission consent payments. ”This is America. We’ll make a deal with these guys or won’t make a deal.” Read More »

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UPDATE: CBS Shares -2% In After-Hours Trading Although Company Vows 2012 Will Be “Record-Breaking Year”

UPDATE, 2:45 PM: Despite the strong 3Q earnings, some investors are concerned about the lower-than-expected revenues and a slowdown in ad-sales growth from 2Q. But that didn’t stop CEO Les Moonves from his usual cheerleading in his quarterly conference call with analysts: With more digital and retransmission consent deals ahead, as well as polticial ads, “the company is set up for a record-breaking 2012,” he says. He’s confident about the ad market despite signs that the economy might weaken. “It is business as usual,” he says. “Very few people are cancelling us because they know they’ll have to pay more” next year. Moonves says the recent online streaming deal that CW cut with Hulu does not mean that CBS might join Comcast, News Corp, and Disney at the online video venture. CBS co-owns CW with Time Warner, but “CW is a different animal. It appeals to a younger demographic.” Moonves adds that the most important takeaway is that “we got paid a chunk of money. There was no advertising split, which is something we refuse to do.” Read More »

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UPDATE: Les Moonves Calls CBS ‘A Fundamentally Different Co’ As 2Q Results Top Profit And Revenue Expectations

UPDATE, 2:45 PM: Les Moonves stuck to familiar themes in his conference call with analysts. He says CBS is “confident” it will collect about $250M next year from cable and satellite retransmission payments. That will eventually grow to about $700M and “it drops right to the bottom line.” The CBS chief also says he’s unfazed by Fox’s plan to launch Simon Cowell’s talent contest The X Factor. It’s “going to be a big hit” at a time when American Idol “is still a monster.” But Moonves says “it won’t hurt us” because CBS attracts a different audience with its scripted shows. The old series in its vault also have new value as online services including Netflix and Amazon search for shows to stream. Moonves says that Dish Network — which recently bought Blockbuster — wants programming. Also, “we hear Apple wanting to buy content and Google and Microsoft,” he says. All in all, “CBS is a fundamentally different company today than we were a few years ago.”

As for the rest of the call, someone really needs to tell Chairman Sumner Redstone to cool it with the “genius” references. Analysts laughed months ago when he used the word to describe Moonves and Viacom’s Philippe Dauman. Redstone sadly trotted it out again today, saying that Moonves delivered “the performance of a genius” in 2Q. It’s no slight to him to say that luck is also a big factor in the company’s upbeat story. Read More »

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Big Media’s 1Q Earnings Roundup: Cash

The money is flowing again into Big Media. Just about every media CEO who recently spoke to Wall Street analysts about this year’s 1st Quarter earnings said that ad sales are up and consumers are spending. “Viacom … Read More »

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Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes: ‘Too Much Excitement’ About Premium VOD

Time Warner Jeff Bewkes comes across as the media world’s most laid-back CEO. But he asked a lot this morning when he told movie theater owners to cool their jets about Premium VOD. “There’s been too much excitement about this,” Bewkes said at a panel discussion sponsored by investment firm Jefferies & Co. “Our interests are aligned.” That will come as a surprise to the National Association of Theater Owners and its members who loathe PVOD as much as the Tea Party hates taxes. Exhibitors say many would-be ticket buyers will wait to watch films at home as studios including Warner Bros begin to offer 8-week-old releases on cable and satellite VOD services for about $30 a showing. Bewkes says theater owners are wrong: “I’m saying (box office revenue) doesn’t go down.” Everyone will suffer, he says, if the studios can’t provide an alternative to pirates who sell bootlegged copies of recent movies to people who don’t want to wait for the official home video release. Other panel members — none of them exhibitors — supported Bewkes. CBS chief Les Moonves said that although theater owners are scared, “you have to change a bit.” And Sony Corporation of America CFO Robert Wiesenthal said that “everybody is experimenting and being aggressive,” even though studios should recognize that theaters are “the foundation of the economic value chain for a feature film.” Read More »

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CBS Corp. Chief Expects Double-Digit Ad Gains At Upfront

Nellie Andreeva

Deflecting any questions about the future of CBS’ top comedy Two and a Half Men, CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves today talked about the upcoming upfront market and his bullish projections for CBS. Speaking at a Deutsche Bank investor conference in Florida, Moonves predicted ad rate increases of … Read More »

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