Broadcast Television Not Dead: CBS' Moonves

Cable hasn't killed broadcast television, which is still drawing viewers and advertisers with some help from an unlikely ally — the DVR, CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves told CNBC Tuesday.


"Broadcasting is having an up year," with CBS having 20 of the top 30 shows, he said. "Network television is still the best game in town. The DVR has become our friend," helping push up ratings on the network's most popular shows.

CBS advertising has been strong both in the annual upfront season, when people commit their ad dollars in advance, and in "scatter," or all other ads not sold upfront.

"It doesn't hurt that ratings are performing extremely well," Moonves added.

Next year CBS, with its many television and radio stations, will also profit from what should be a blizzard of political campaign ads.

"It's not necessarily the best thing for America that there is so much contention out there but the good news is the candidates do spend money and they do spend it on our air," Moonves said.

But CBS is also expecting to spend a lot of money, too — on football. With renewing its television rights to National Football League games under negotiation, "We hope to be an NFL network," the CEO said.

"The NFL is a great property. It’s a very good product," he said. "Is it more valuable and will we pay more? Yes. It will be a deal that everybody will be happy with when it gets done. They believe if their partners are strong, they’re strong, and that’s a good attitude."

Moonves said CBS has no plans to increase the company's dividend but is spending its considerable cash on buying back stock, paying down debt and paying its pension obligations.