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Moonves On Advertising, Katie Couric and Hulu

I sat down with Les Moonves, CEO of CBS at theNational Association of Broadcasters convention for an exclusive interview.

Katie Couric
Getty Images
Katie Couric

Moonves wouldn't weigh in on the Charlie Sheen controversy, but he did comment on rumors that Katie Couric is considering leavingthe network when her contract expires.

He says they're in talks right now over her contract, so it's far too soon to say how this will turn out.

Besides all the talk about Couric, one of the hot topics here at NAB is streaming.

CBS offers far fewer streaming videos of current shows than any rival network. And the Eye is now the only network not participating in Hulu.

Moonves drew a straight line between the company's judicious approach to offering free content online and having the highest ratings in television.

Moonves says it's simply not worth it to give away as much content as their rivals do.

CBS may be boycotting Hulu, but it did strike a deal with Netflix. Why?

It's happy to sell older content that isn't on TV, and wouldn't be generating revenue otherwise.

Moonves could not have been more bullish about the advertising market.

Despite new consumer and sentiment reports showing that Americans are anxious about the economy, Moonves said all signs point to the ad market continuing to boom. Ad prices in the last-minute, or 'scatter' market are up dramatically and he's expecting a strong upfront ad sales period.

Another hot topic among broadcasters is the legal battle between Time Warner Cable and CBS' former sister company, Viacom. Moonves says he has been questioning whether cable companies have the legal right to distribute to new devices like the iPad.

Bottom line — CBS wants to get paid for its content in as many ways as possible. Moonves has successfully transitioned CBS network from a single revenue stream, advertising, to a dual revenue one, with the addition of retransmission fees. Now he's trying to ensure that digital revenue provides a substantial third stream without cannibalizing the first two.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.