Les Moonves embraces Brian Roberts as new broadcast buddy


CBS Corporation CEO Les Moonves called the deal by Comcast to buy 51% of NBC Universal “exciting” and a boost for the media M&A market. But he also had some fun at the UBS media conference in NYC discussing the decision by Comcast CEO Brian Roberts to move the cable giant into the broadcasting business.

“The Comcast-NBC deal is pretty exciting. It’s the first major deal, I guess, since AOL-Time Warner,” Moonves said. Then, laughing, he added, “and I’m sure Brian expects it will come out a little better than that one did.”

“Obviously we do a lot of business with Comcast. Brian and [COO] Steve [Burke] are very impressive operators. I think that they will do a great job at operating those assets,” Moonves said when asked how the Comcast-NBCU deal might affect his company. “NBC obviously is a competitor in a lot of ways, but the USA Network also buys a lot of our off-network stuff, so they’re also a client of ours.”

But there was glee in his voice as Moonves said this: “Once again, I love the fact that the Comcast guys are saying, yes, retransmission consent should be paid. And they’re absolutely right. We believe in that and we think that’s terrific. Once again, it underlines how valuable content is.”

As the largest cable MSO, Comcast is on the paying side of retrans, but Roberts has recently pointed to retrans cash as a growth area for the broadcast assets at NBCU.

RBR-TVBR observation: Business makes for strange bedfellows. Do you suppose there’s any chance that we could someday see someone from Comcast sitting on the boards at both NCTA and NAB? Now, wouldn’t that be something?