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Les Moonves: ‘It’s good to be back’ on Time Warner Cable

A month ago, when CBS stations first went dark for Time Warner Cable customers, CBS CEO Les Moonves told the LA Times that they were “at war” with the cable company.

As the blackout persisted, the rhetoric only heated up. Now that a deal is done (just in time for the US Open finals and the start of the NFL season), Moonves is striking a more friendly tone toward the company he was at war with, while still acknowledging the rough month.

“This has been a difficult time for our viewers and for CBS. I am glad it’s behind us,” Moonves wrote to staff. “After a terrific summer of programming, we now all look forward to the new television season. It’s good to be back.”

The good news for CBS is that ratings were not significantly affected, though most shows were down slightly. The bad news for consumers is that feuds like these will likely only increase over the next few years, as content companies seek higher carriage fees from cable companies, which in turn are trying to keep prices low so consumers don’t bail on them.

Moonves’ letter to CBS staff, below.

I am pleased to inform you that this evening we concluded our content carriage agreement with Time Warner Cable. Effective immediately, CBS will be back on the Time Warner Cable systems in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas, and Showtime will be available to their subscribers across the nation. All other disruptions to our viewers will cease, and things will go back to normal, with a new and beneficial agreement in place.

This was a far more protracted dispute than anyone at CBS anticipated, but in spite of the pain it caused to all of us, and most importantly the inconvenience to our viewers who were affected, it was an important one, and one worth pursuing to a satisfactory conclusion. That has been achieved. The final agreements with Time Warner Cable deliver to us all the value and terms that we sought in these discussions. We are receiving fair compensation for CBS content and we also have the ability to monetize our content going forward on all the new, developing platforms that are right now transforming the way people watch television.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of those who worked so diligently – around the clock in many cases – to produce this excellent outcome. Thanks go to our Chief Operating Officer, Joe Ianniello, who spearheaded the negotiating efforts, and to Ray Hopkins, our new President of Television Distribution, who was our chief negotiator. Supporting their efforts were the tireless teams at Law, Marketing, Communications and virtually every other department in our company, all of whom came together to make sure this important job was done right. Our thanks to them all.

This has been a difficult time for our viewers and for CBS. I am glad it’s behind us. After a terrific summer of programming, we now all look forward to the new television season. It’s good to be back.

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