Moonves: Ads Are Slowing, But We Can Handle It (CBS)

CBS CEO Les Moonves seems to have rethought his take on the ad slowdown: It is indeed affecting his business, he told the McGraw Hill Media Summit this morning.

But Les insisted, much as News Corp.’s (NWS) Rupert Murdoch did earlier this week, that his company is in ok shape anyway — even though 70% of his revenue comes from advertising, leaving it much more exposed to an advertising recession than his competitors.

“We are being affected by the slowdown in the economy–there’s no question about it,” he said. “But it’s affecting small markets first. We are in big markets for the most part with our radio and TV.”

At Bear Stearns earlier in the week, Les said he was surprised by to hear Rupert acknowledge this his local TV ads had slowed, and that sales were running 5% behind projections. If CBS did have a slowdown, he said, it was being buffeted by a seasonal boom in political ads.

Today, Les shifted a bit and admitted that CBS could indeed take a hit. But if it did, he said, they’d be able to survive via layoffs and other cuts: “There are cutbacks we can take in personnel and our cost structure, and we will be able to manage it.”

“There are some who say the content business is recession-proof,” he said. “I don’t buy that, but it is less affected, and we continue to produce high-quality content.”

Earlier: CBS CEO Moonves To Citigroup: No Local Ad Recession

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