Moonves to stations: Get more retrans money out of pay-TV operators or else

Seemingly oblivious to the fact that a proposal that would end broadcast-retransmission payments nearly made it onto a Senate bill, CBS Corp. president Les Moonves urged TV stations to get tough with pay-TV operators during retrans negotiations.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communicopia Conference in New York on Wednesday, Moonves said he wants CBS to take in $2 billion in annual retrans money by 2020. And for that to happen, affiliated stations not owned by CBS need to step up the amount of retrans coin they're bringing in (CBS gets a cut of its affiliates' retrans money).

"We the networks should not be penalized because you the station do not negotiate retrans properly," he said, with various media, including the New York Post, on hand. 

Moonves' blunt comments come a month after CBS abruptly broke off talks regarding a new affiliate agreement in Indianapolis with LIN Media, which refused to cave into CBS' reverse-compensation demands. CBS ended up making a deal with Tribune in that market.

A number of station groups, of course, have drawn hard lines in retrans negotiation talks with pay-TV operators, the most recent example being the just-ended blackout of DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV) by Raycom Media.

These blackouts have proven to be an effective negotiating tool, but they also catching the eye of Congress. Earlier this week, ranking Senate Commerce Committee members narrowly pulled back a proposal to include language ending retrans fees as we know them in a soon-to-be-voted-on satellite TV bill. But the fact that the so-called Local Choice proposal made it as far as it did had to alarm broadcasters.

For more:
- read this New York Post story
- read this Multichannel News story

Related links:
Local Choice pulled from Senate bill
Mediacom's Larsen on programming costs, Local Choice and TV Everywhere challenges
Local Choice fight ramps up as CBS refuses to run ATVA ads
DirecTV and Raycom settle retrans fight, exchange nasty words