CBS HAS NO MAKEGOODS INVENTORY problem this season--but it will see lower overall revenue for this broadcast year, while shelling out even lower production costs. For a beleaguered industry, that's tantamount to good news.
"In terms of the near term, we'll finish the TV season just fine," said CBS Corp. president/CEO Les Moonves, during CitiGroup's Annual Global Entertainment, Media & Telecommunications Conference. "Obviously, revenue will be down because ratings are down," he said, "but our costs of producing original programs will be down more."
Regarding makegoods inventory and other potential problems, such as NBC recently giving back cash to advertisers, Moonves noted: "There were some makegoods from the 2006-2007 season. It has been primarily taken care of. Scatter pricing has been very high, and we haven't had to turn away any scatter buys. We don't view it as a serious liability."
In regard to giving cash back to advertisers, he said: "I couldn't imagine that scenario."
Overall, it's going to be a big year for CBS stations, Moonves said, because some $3 billion in political advertising will be available. "We anticipate taking a big chunk of that; radio will take a big chunk of that as well," he said.
The writers' strike continues for TV networks and studios. But Moonves is hopeful. "I'm guardedly optimistic it will be over in the next few months," he said.
He added that all CBS businesses continue to do well--outperforming the company's own estimates for the fourth quarter of 2007. Moonves noted that with plenty of cash on hand, CBS will look into buying digital and other new media assets.