CBS' Les Moonves Breaks His Silence on Charlie Sheen

Isaac Brekken/Getty Images

The CBS Corp. president says of the actor's pr blitz, "I wish he would have worked this hard to promote himself for an Emmy."

NEW YORK - CBS Corp. president and CEO Leslie Moonves said Tuesday that he doesn't know if Two and a Half Men will be back in the future, but said there is no near-term financial pain for CBS.

He added that he wished star Charlie Sheen had spent as much time pushing for an Emmy as he has worked the pr machine in recent days.

Sheen is "on the air quite a bit these days," he said. "I wish he would have worked this hard to promote himself for an Emmy." He made the comments as Sheen appeared on the Howard Stern radio program following a number of high-profile television appearances.

Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco, Moonves said this about the financial impact of the decision to stop production on Two and a Half Men for this season: "Short-term, financially it is actually a gainer for us."

Moonves added: "Repeats obviously get somewhat less revenue than the originals. [But] it is a show that repeats very well. Doing eight [fewer] originals saves us quite a bit of money."

He added that "I'm not saying long-term I want this to go on," but the repeat Monday night was the fourth-highest rated show of the night.

"Going down the road...I don't know what's going to happen," Moonves said. "I hope it's back. We'll see."

Moonves pointed out that Two and a Half Men helped CBS launch successful new shows in the Monday 9:30pm slot. But he emphasized that Mike & Molly and Big Bang Theory - now on Thursday night - are doing really well in the ratings right now.

Moonves also once again lauded a recent Netflix streaming deal for CBS library product, saying it will make the company money off older content, with analysts having estimated it will bring in $200 million in revenue.

He once again mentioned that Netflix was willing to pay up for popular older content even though it would have loved to get more current content as well. "Maybe they don't want Two and a Half Men so much this week," Moonves then quipped.

Asked if Netflix's popular streaming service is a positive or negative for content owners overall, Moonves told the investor conference: "We think Netflix is a plus [for] content providers. Obviously, [Time Warner CEO] Mr. [Jeff] Bewkes has a very different point of  view on Netflix as the devil-incarnate who is trying to put us all out of business. We view them as another platform, another content provider. We don't see them as a threat to our core businesses."

Bewkes has previously said that content firms must make sure they get paid fairly by Netflix and encouraged others to mostly provide library product to the company to avoid giving Netflix too much influence.

Moonves on Tuesday also once again reiterated that he feels CBS was smart not to join online video joint venture Hulu. "I don't like joint ventures," he said, pointing out recurring reports of conflict between the content giants that jointly own Hulu, namely Walt Disney, News Corp. and NBCUniversal.

Moonves repeated a recent comment that he has heard some members of Hulu nowadays wish they hadn't joined either.