Media Money with Julia Boorstin

CBS And Moonves In Media Spotlight

Les Moonves

CBS President and CEO Les Moonves, wanting to dispel concerns that an economic slowdown would hurt ad sales, said that CBS ad sales are up 30% in the current scatter market, at Merrill Lynch's Media conference. Moonves has good reason to want investors to think CBS won't suffer if the economy turns south--the media company (not just the TV network) is more reliant on ad sales than any other media conglomerate.

Virtually every single one of its divisions is reliant on ad sales-- the outdoor advertising division, radio, and obviously TV. Its cable division, less so: but cable subscriptions are a bit contingent on the economy as well.

In other CBS news, the controversial reality show "Kid Nation" debuted last night among controversy about the treatment of the 40 kids age 8-15 in the show. The show came in second place, with an audience of about 9 million, according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research Numbers, behind NBC's "Deal or No Deal" with 9.7 million viewers and Fox's sitcom, "Back to You" with 9.4 million viewers. Moonves reportedly said "it wasn't blockbuster, but it did well." Moonves continues to insist the conditions at the "ghost town" where the kids were trying to set up a community was a-okay.

I watched the show last night, and while it dragged a bit at first, it picked up, with kids fighting and crying and doing all that stuff that kids do when they're unsupervised by adults. Will it be a hit? Depends what happens in following episodes. I did worry about the kids not getting enough to eat--if they can drum up serious drama beyond that then they may hook an audience, and it'll certainly be a younger audience than CBS average viewer, older than for any other network. One thing's for sure--it's amazingly evocative of George Orwell's "Animal Farm."

FYI: GE is the parent company of both NBC and CNBC.

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