Les Moonves Thinks Comcast-Owned Time Warner Cable Will 'Pay Appropriately' For CBS Content (Video)
The CEO talks to CNBC about the surprising nature of the deal and whether his network would have a fight like this summer's with the NBCUniversal owner.
CBS CEO Les Moonves was scheduled to appear on CNBC Thursday morning to talk about his company's earnings, announced Wednesday afternoon, but he found himself being asked about the big business news that broke overnight: Comcast's $45.2 billion deal to buy Time Warner Cable.
Moonves first admitted that the deal took him by surprise, as it likely did many other people, pointing out that Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and cable head Neil Smit were putting this deal together while people thought they were in Sochi for the Winter Olympics, airing on Comcast-owned NBC.
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"I think everybody was pretty surprised by what happened, and as usual Brian and Neil did this deal under cover, under wraps," he told CNBC's David Faber. "Everybody thought they were in Sochi, and here they were making a huge deal while that was happening."
Moonves praised Comcast for putting together a "a pretty terrific deal" and suggested that as content owners, they may better understand CBS' interests than Time Warner Cable does. CBS had a very public retransmission fees dispute with Time Warner Cable this summer that resulted in the network being blacked out in TWC's major markets, including New York and L.A.
"Obviously as a content provider, you know, the good news about Comcast is they own a network that competes with us and they own a number of cable channels, so they are a company that believes in content and they believe in paying fairly for content," Moonves said. "As you may have heard, we had a little dispute with Time Warner Cable this past summer over what they felt they didn't want to pay what we felt was a fair share for our content. Comcast obviously thinks about it in an entirely different way."
Although he noted that the deal's too new to discuss ramifications, Moonves said if it's approved, CBS looks forward to working with the Comcast-owned TWC.
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Moonves went on to suggest that since Comcast is a content owner, he thinks the company will be willing to "pay appropriately" for CBS' content.
"I think Comcast appreciates the value of our content and will pay appropriately for it," he said. "The power struggle that we may have had with Time Warner Cable, it was about what we felt was an unfair offer for our content. We don't think it's going to be the same sort of struggle. We obviously already have an existing deal with Comcast."
Watch Moonves' full interview with CNBC below.