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MipCom 2007: Personality of the Year, Leslie Moonves, divulges on the CBS road ahead

09-October-2007
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MipCom 2007: Personality of the Year, Leslie Moonves, divulges on the CBS road ahead

Day one at MipCom 2007, being held at Cannes, saw Leslie Moonves, CBS Corporation’s President and CEO, hounoured as MipCom’s Personality of the Year. As is known, CBS Corporation is a top media player in the US, with presence in broadcasting through various channels in the genres of general entertainment, news, and sports among others; programme production and syndication, radio, advertising on out-of-home media, publishing, theme parks; digital media and consumer products.

Moonves oversees all operations of the company, including CBS Television Network; CW, which is a JV between CBS Corporation and Warner Bros; CBS Television Studios; CBS Paramount Network Television; CBS Television Distribution; and all the other ventures from the group. CBS has also recently announced its decision to get into motion pictures, and had launched iLabs in September, where the purpose of the division is to give viewers access to CBS content in the form of short promos, which they can “mesh” in any way the viewer wants.

The two developments are a clear indication of the mix of the new and traditional that CBS intends to follow even in days to come. In his opening keynote address, which was held at the Grand Auditorium at the Palais de Festivals, Moonves took the audience through the growth in television and what it implied for the media industry. He pointed out that the international market had become more multi-cultural and that the growth in tele-communications and digital technologies had made the world a small space, where more people were fighting for viewer attention.

He said, “What this really does is put the power right into the hands of the content creators. If you see technology is empty with content, no matter how much technology grows, it is always going to need us. Hence, technology is a friend, and not a threat.” Moonves took the audience through the recent changes in the US media landscape, which today offered live ratings and commercial ratings, the latter being of the ones of recorded programmes, and said that the manner in which the scene was becoming complex, and that content was available on various platforms, ratings were more meaningless everyday.

He also said that broadcast critics had been spelling doom for the medium for a long time now. However, with television continually evolving itself, the broadcasters were still firmly sitting on the driver’s seat. In this background, he chalked out four areas of focus in the evolution strategy for CBS Corporation. The first was the creation of mass appeal content. He said, “Wireless is useless unless it is hitless. The digital mediums are successful only if they have ‘hit’ content to show. Without content, every new platform is an empty shell.”

The second was the focus on the content library and how that could be used. He cited the ‘I Love Lucy’ example to point out that shows that were made over five decades ago could still fetch revenues for the network. The third point was to evolve with the consumers and be able to give the viewers whatever they wanted, however they wanted and whenever they wanted. He pointed out that the same content couldn’t be re-purposed for different mediums, and that was the mistake that the likes of print medium made. It was important to be medium-conscious. In today’s times, it was also important to be interactive.

Finally, he informed that CBS had been, and would continue to experiment with all the different forms of getting paid. He said, “We are creating great content and we should not just give it to ‘techies’ for free.” He spoke of the likes of branded content gaining further ground in the market, and newer ad models and partnerships making way. He said, “This is perhaps the best times for content casters. The only risk is in not trying.”

The MipCom Personality of the Year was created in 1989 to pay tribute to exceptional careers in and contribution to the international television industry. Previous recipients of the Award include Richard D Parson, Chairman and CEO, Time Warner Inc, and Peter Chernin, President and COO of News Corp, amongst others.

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