CBS News chairman on paying for interviews: ‘We won’t do it’

Dylan Stableford

CBS News executives said Wednesday that they're done with paying license fees for photos in exchange for exclusive interviews. The network's policy change follows ABC's recent declaration that they were doing away with the practice.

"We've had people approach us at 60 Minutes regularly who say we want money for pictures, we want you to pay for video," CBS News chairman Jeff Fager told reporters during the network's appearance at the Television Critics Association tour in Beverly Hills. "We won't do it. I know it's happened in stories in the past. For a certain sum, a small fee, pictures become available. I'm against it, I'm against it for our organization."

Fager's comments come as lawyers for Casey Anthony are said to be seeking as much as $1.5 million from networks for an exclusive interview with the "Tot Mom" now cleared of charges of killing her 2-year-old daughter.

"Others want to do it?" Fager continued. "Fine. There are so many stories out there to tell. We don't need to get involved in that line of work. It goes against everything it stands for."

Fager also addressed the loss of Katie Couric as the host of "CBS Evening News."

"I think at some point she realized she really needed to move on and spread her wings in a way that is more appropriate for her," he said. "I think she was frustrated. She handled it as well as she could. And I think they have a lot over those years to be very proud of."

Still, Fager admitted that some of the network's news audience had turned on Couric. "I think there's no doubt that some of the people who are tuning in are coming back," Fager said.  "I think we did lose some viewers in recent years."

Dan Rather's name--which isn't spoken terribly often at the Tiffany Network these days--also came up at the TCAs.

"Things ended so badly," Fager said of the CBS relationship with Rather. "It's difficult to see how it could be reconciled."