Why Barry Diller Is Bullish on Local TV

By Chris Ariens 

CNBC’s Squawk on the Street, celebrating its 20th anniversary, devoted nearly an hour of this morning’s show discussing the future of media with TV titans CBS chairman Les Moonves, Discovery CEO David Zaslav and IAC chairman Barry Diller. The conversation ranged from programming to ratings to streaming services and the future of TV news.

“All TV news, other than local news, is irrelevant,” said Diller. “People watch local. I’ve always thought the last one standing is a local television station. I think they’re going on forever. They are the ones organized to deal with their local community. People like to know about things in their area: weather, sports. Local, local, local, is always going to be relevant for television.”

Moonves disagreed, asking Diller if he thought “60 Minutes” is irrelevant.

“No, no, sorry, not saying ’60 minutes’ or documentaries and specials and things like that,” Diller said, adding. “The concept of the evening news. It has an audience, but that audience is declining. It’s no longer relevant.”

Diller was so bullish on local TV that he backed the now-shuttered Aereo service, which captured local TV signals and allowed viewers to watch them via the internet. The Supreme Court ruled against the service in June, 2014. Interestingly, the Aereo fight pitted Diller against Moonves, who was seated next to him during Squawk Box this morning.

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