Viacom co-president and co-chief operating officer Leslie Moonves assured CBS affiliates at their annual conference here that the network stands to benefit should Viacom be split up into two entities


LAS VEGAS (The Hollywood Reporter) -- Viacom co-president and co-chief operating officer Leslie Moonves assured CBS affiliates at their annual conference here that the network stands to benefit should Viacom be split up into two entities.

Viacom's board is expected to vote by the end of the month on a proposal to divide Viacom in half. Moonves would control CBS and the other broadcast assets, and his fellow co-president and co-chief operating officer Tom Freston would oversee properties including the cable assets.

"I can tell you if this happens, it will be very positive for us," Moonves said. In a wide-ranging presentation to affiliates on the state of CBS, where Moonves retains the title of chairman, he touted the combined power of the Viacom divisions that could be brought to bear for the benefit of the network. Moonves described the promotional capabilities of Viacom's radio and outdoor division as well as the production and distribution strengths of Paramount.

"The key here is we have a much better control of the creative process," he said.

Moonves also crowed about CBS' growing strength at the 10 p.m. hour that serves as a lead-in to local news programming, specifically citing the gains of new series introduced in that time slot last year. On Wednesday, "CSI: NY" is up 65% in total viewers vs. occupants of the time slot last year; midseason addition "Numbers" is up 33% by the same measure.

In addition, Moonves stressed the importance of the extension CBS signed with the NFL. Affiliates are expected to help foot the bill.

Stations are also expected to pool resources for the network's investment in new ventures to maximize the spectrum for digital and other platforms, including video on demand and the Internet.

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