CBS Boss Vows to Stay Off Hard Liquor

11 January 2002

CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves has revealed the network will not be emulating NBC’s controversial decision before Christmas to start airing ads for hard liquor [WAMN: 14-Dec-01].

“We don’t feel it is the right thing to do,” Moonves told a Television Critics Association press tour, echoing similar sentiments expressed recently by Mel Karmazin, president of CBS parent Viacom. However, Moonves did not totally rule out the possibility that the network would one day accept such commercials.

A major factor in CBS’s stance is thought to be its unwillingness to upset beer advertisers by airing ads for alternative alcoholic drinks. Unlike NBC, CBS broadcasts a wide range of sports programming – shows attracting a hefty portion of brewers’ ad dollars.

Aside from the liquor issue, Moonves emphasised that CBS was the only big network to have raised its share of ratings in every demographic this season. His talk also touched on the merging of operations with Viacom sibling UPN [WAMN: 11-Dec-01], concerning which a “fact-finding mission” has been set up.

On the subject of rising media expenses, he added that the network “has not done a lot to reduce production costs,” as it does not want to do anything “stupid”.

Reflecting this attitude, CBS news president Andrew Heyward revealed that talks with ABC and CNN about pooling some news-gathering expenses – which have soared due to the current war – have not led to any deal. Heyward said the network did not need such an alliance to cope with the coverage.

News source: Wall Street Journal