Les Moonves on Barry Diller's Aereo: 'It's Nothing We Lose Sleep Over'

Sharon Waxman & Tim Kenneally
May 1, 2013
Les Moonves on Barry Diller's Aereo: 'It's Nothing We Lose Sleep Over'

CBS might be suing Aereo, which transmits broadcast television content to users' computers, but according to CBS Corporation president and CEO Les Moonves, Aereo isn't worthy of his concern.

Speaking at the Milken Institute global conference on Tuesday, Moonves took a dig at the service, which is currently embroiled in a legal showdown with the networks. CBS, Fox, ABC and NBC, among other entities, have contended in legal papers that Aereo violates copyright of their content.

Also read: Aereo Lawsuit: Networks Seek Re-Hearing After Appeals Court Setback

Barry Diller, whose IAC/InterActive Corp backs Aereo, has countered that the service merely makes it possible for people to view the content that they have a right to watch, as a result of letting broadcasters use the public airwaves.

"It's nothing we lose sleep over," Moonves told attendees at a panel. "Aereo is not a problem, it's been blown way out of proportion."

Also read: Aereo, Enemy of Broadcast Networks, Raises $38M to Expand Into 22 Cities

Further minimizing Diller's effect on CBS, Moonves said that, with Aereo, Diller is merely doing what he does -- playing the disrupter.

"He's succeeded in disrupting," Moonves said.

Others at Moonves' network have been less dismissive of Aereo, which brings broadcast content to users' computers via individual antennae. Responding to news that Aereo -- which currently only operates in New York -- was expanding to Boston, CBS executive vice president of communications Dana McClintock tweeted, "And we will be there to sue them."

Moonves opined that the networks' legal challenge against Aereo will prevail (though, earlier this month, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Aereo), but if not, Moonves said that CBS could pursue other options. Such as putting CBS on cable, which he said could be accomplished "in a few days."

"I doubt it will come to that," Moonves added.

Moonves was less dismissive of online streaming service Netflix, suggesting that the network and Netflix have a love-hate relationship.

""Netflix is a friend and enemy at the same time," Moonves said, because they compete with network TV but also buy content. (Netflix recently made the leap into original series programming with offerings such as "House of Cards" and  "Hemlock Grove.")

"Technology has made a lot of frenemies," Moonves said.

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