CBS Signs Up 9 MSOs

NEW YORK In the first offensive of what could escalate into a major turf war between CBS Corp. and the nation’s cable operators, the broadcaster today said it has reached comprehensive retransmission consent agreements with nine MSOs.

Although CBS elected not to identify the operators, in a statement issued Thursday morning, the network noted that several of the MSOs involved were among cable’s “Top 25” distributors, representing “more than 1 million subscribers.”

All nine agreements cover analog, digital, multicast and high-definition rights to programming on CBS owned-and-operated TV stations.

“Clearly there is a new paradigm in the marketplace—one that recognizes the value of the content that we bring to our various audiences,” CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves said in Thursday’s statement. “This is a trend that bodes well for us going forward as future retransmission deals are negotiated.”

Terms of the agreements were not disclosed.

Over the course of the past few years, Moonves has been aggressively stumping for compensation for his network’s signal, declaring that not being allowed to charge operators a fee for retransmission of consent was “an injustice.”

While many smaller operators will see their existing deals expire within the next year, monolithic MSOs such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable aren’t expected to have to work out new arrangements with CBS until around 2010.