News reports say Les Moonves told an investor conference in New York that he was hopeful but “not terribly optimistic” about a quick resolution in the resumed WGA-AMPTP talks because the two sides remain “far apart” as the writers strike drags into its 5th week. “It’s important both sides stay in the room to discuss the issues and come to a resolution,” Moonves said at UBS’ 35th Annual Global Media & Communications Conference in New York City. He claimed “personality disputes between the different sides” have slowed negotiations but “it’s important that both sides stay in the room and discuss what’s on the table and come to a resolution. And I hope that happens.”
On the crucial strike issue of the Internet and digital platforms, Moonves said, “the future looks very bright” but “that day is not here.” He continued, “We want to share that revenue with our content creators — and we think the writers are very important to us, as are the actors, the directors and the producers, and without them we wouldn’t have our content — at the same time, we are trying to figure out what the world of new media will be and hopefully we can come to some resolution with them that they will share in the pie. Right now we don’t know what that pie is.”
Moonves said CBS in the spring is “prepared to have a full schedule. We’re certainly not going to go dark.” He said a full midseason schedule will include programs from Showtime, the network’s sister cable channel that offers daring fare like Weeds, Brotherhood and Dexter which will all be edited for network use as well as sports and holiday specials.
The CBS Corp chief exec said there was likely to be ratings shortfalls if the five-week strike dragged on. “Ratings will probably not be as high without the influence of original programming, but costs will be down considerably.” Regarding ads, he claims there’s plenty of scatter inventory available “if the price is right.” But he failed to address the issue of givebacks directly. Instead, he dwelled on how, thanks to falling programming costs, the strike will have no significant financial impact to the network in the short to medium term, Moonves said.
We’ve been hearing that boast echoed by a lot of the CEOs lately, how they’re thrilled that their 4th quarter numbers are gonna look swell because they saved so much money not paying salaries. One problem, though: they’re gonna pay dearly for it in 2008.