The CBS chief just rubbed a little salt into the cable operators’ wounds from their 32-day contract dispute this summer. The loss of CBS stations and channels on Time Warner Cable systems “did not negatively affect our third-quarter results,” he told analysts in a conference call to discuss his company’s earnings. (Last week, COO Rob Marcus said that TWC’s video subscriber losses “were much worse than we planned” in Q3.) Les Moonves also put other pay TV distributors on notice that CBS’ revenues from retransmission consent fees are up 50% so far this year and “you’ll see even bigger increases in the years to come” — even without giving up streaming rights to its programs. Couldn’t that attract attention from the FCC? Moonves says he isn’t worried. If the FCC decided to referee fights between programmers and distributors “that would be the only things they’d do. … Every indication is that they will stay out.” CBS also is sanguine about the likelihood that cable operators will consolidate, in part to give them more clout in retransmission fee negotiations. “We don’t lose any sleep,” COO Joseph Ianniello says. “As long as consumers have a choice [with satellite or telco video providers] they’ll always find CBS.” Moonves was equally blasé about the expansion of Aereo, which streams TV station programming without paying a license fee. Broadcasters say that infringes on their copyrights, and have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to step in. “They have won a couple of cases, and we have won a couple of cases,” he says. Despite all the work that CBS’ lawyers are doing to thwart Aereo, Moonves says that “we don’t think about it very much.”
Related: CBS Q3 Earnings Match Expectations
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