Les Moonves on Imminent CBS News Digital Channel, Aereo

By Adam Flomenbaum 

cbs-news-logoLes Moonves, Chairman and CEO of CBS, appeared on Bloomberg TV yesterday and revealed plans to launch a 24-hour digital news channel.

“Look, we’re not in the cable space obviously,” said Moonves. “There are already too many players there for us to start a brand new cable network. So we thought with all the content going digital right now, wouldn’t it be a good idea to do a 24-hour digital channel taking all the resources that CBS News has, and you were part of it in the not too distant past, all over the world. And there is so much information that we get every day that doesn’t fit into a 22-minute news cast at 6:30 or “CBS This Morning.” So we can do that. We can go direct digital. So that’s in the early stages under the tutelage of David Rhodes, the president of CBS News, and it’s an exciting alternative to cable news.”

NBC and Fox are the chief rivals in the cable news space, while CBS has been conspicuously absent. But a digital-only channel could give cord-cutting political junkies a viable alternative. More, companies like Roku, Amazon (Fire TV), and Microsoft (Xbox) competing to acquire exclusive rights to content could jump at the opportunity to host a 24-hour CBS News channel.

Moonves also took the opportunity to talk to Bloomberg TV’s Trish Regan about CBS’s fight against Aereo. Moonves has been one of the most vocal critics of Aereo:

We obviously think Aereo is illegal. We think they’re basically taking our content, charging people for it and not paying us for our content. We – as I said, it costs a lot for the NFL. It costs a lot to produce NCIS and “The Big Bang Theory” and they’re taking our signal and basically selling it to consumers. Now when we do this with Time Warner Cable or Comcast, they pay us and then they sell it to the consumers.

So we have basically said this is theft. The case appeared before the Supreme Court a few weeks ago. We think we’re going to win. We think the court is going to side with us. They did a very good job of confusing the issue, basically saying, well if you shut down Aereo you’re shutting down content on the cloud. You’re hurting new technology, which is absolutely not true. Look, we hope we win. We expect to win. If not, there are other things we can do to offset that.