Scatter Up 15 Percent From 2009 at CBS

NEW YORK: Scatter is up 15 percent over last year at CBS and 30 percent over the spring upfront, Les Moonves said this week at an investor conference in New York. Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corp. spoke at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia XIX event Wednesday.

Scatter refers to advertising time purchased after the upfronts in the spring, and is generally more expensive. Auto makers continue to fuel the recovery at CBS stations as well as others. CBS’s auto revenues are up 80 percent in Los Angeles. The CBS owned-and-operated stations are up by the mid-20 percents without political.

Marci Ryvicker of Wells Fargo summed up Moonves’ comments. The bottom line, she said, was that 3Q10 and 1Q11 remained strong despite the economy, and 2011 is expected to show growth despite tough comparisons. CBS is also considering ways to return capital to shareholders, and to balance reverse compensation with the fiscal health of affiliates.

Moonves confirmed that CBS was receiving payments from affiliates receiving retransmission consent fees from cable and satellite operators. He noted that doing blanket retrans negotiations for all CBS affiliates would be difficult given the number of current contracts with numerous expiration dates.

Ryvicker said CBS was the first among media companies to provide visibility into the first quarter of 2011. She quoted Moonves as saying “the inventory is getting pushed a little further out... and we now have visibility into the first quarter which remains strong.” She said it was surprising to hear given CBS will be up against a 2010 Super Bowl comparison. Fox has the Super Bowl for 2011.

Finally, CBS is exploring new distribution platforms such as Hulu, Apple and Netflix, but has not contributed content for fear of cannibalizing the golden goose--TV. Moonves said CBS would consider Netflix once network executives “figure out what Netflix is.”