Leslie Moonves bullish on network TV

Tells investors broadcast is at 'full strength'

NEW YORK -- After closing the books on a season heavily marred by the three-month-long writers strike, CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves is bullish on network TV's new year.

Moonves told investors at the Merrill Lynch Fall Preview conference in Beverly Hills that the broadcast TV networks were going to be at "full strength" with the writers strike behind them and all original programming in a way that hadn't happened last year. And other signals were pointing to a strong TV season.

"A lot of people watched the Olympics, a lot of people watched the Super Bowl," Moonves said. "There's no place to get 24 million people a week watching 'CSI.' The CW was rumored to be dead. Last week they did pretty well with '90210.' 'Gossip Girl' is doing pretty well ... Network is still the only game in town where you can aggregate a big audience."

It's certainly proving to be a strong season financially, with most of the $9-plus billion committed for network primetime advertising converted to orders for the fourth quarter. Moonves said that despite the worsening economy, the national ad business hasn't been affected yet. He said that everyone seemed surprised about the strength of the upfront market in volume, CPMs and low cancellations.

"Including me," he said.

Even before the TV season, political advertising has been strong. Moonves said that it began to "kick in, big time."

"I think with the Republican vice presidential nominee, I think it's going to be even mor exciting and more vicious, and we welcome that," Moonves said.
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