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CBS will steer clear of Olympics bid

June 2, 2011 |  7:38 am

CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves has ruled out making a bid on the 2014 and 2016 Olympics.

MOOVNES Speaking Thursday morning at the Nomura Media Summit, Moonves said the Olympics would not be "cost effective" for the network. Although a CBS bid was considered a long shot, there had been whispers that the network could make a surprise run at the Games in partnership with Time Warner Inc.'s Turner Broadcasting cable unit.

However, this week it became clear that Turner was not seriously looking at the Olympics and, without a partner, CBS seemed unlikely to take the plunge.

Most aggressively pursuing rights to the Games are Comcast's NBCUniversal; Walt Disney Co., parent of ABC and ESPN; and News Corp.'s Fox. Bids will be presented early next week in Switzerland to the International Olympic Committee.

Moonves expressed his usual optimisim about the state of broadcast television. He said the number crunchers at his network had told him that by 2017 CBS should be getting $1 billion annually in fees from cable and satellite distributors and their own affiliates for the rights to the network's programming.

As the price to carry broadcast networks such as CBS go up, Moonves said it would be smaller cable channels that could face extinction if distributors feel a need to cut costs.

With regards to the current advertising market, Moonves said CBS was expecting to do very well selling commercial inventory for the fall season. He even suggested that there were rumblings that the premiere of CBS' revamped "Two and a Half Men" could draw ratings similar to the AFC Championship, one of the biggest games of the football season.

"We're in a position of strength," he told analysts. CBS is said to be seeking increases of almost 20% in the rates it charges advertisers. He warned that advertisers that don't lock down space now could end up paying even more later.

"We'll wait. Come pay us in October ... spend a lot more," Moonves cracked.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: CBS chief Leslie Moonves. Credit: Julie Jacobson / Associated Press