BEVERLY HILLS (USA TODAY) — CBS chief Leslie Moonves says he'd be interested in acquiring CNN if a potential Fox-Time Warner deal forces a spinoff of the cable news network.
"We've always talked about doing things with CNN in the past," he said after a panel at the Television Critics Association late Thursday, referring to rumored joint ventures. "We'll see. It's something I'm sure we'll look at if it becomes available."
Does Moonves feel an urge to merge, given an expected consolidation of content creators the so-far spurned deal appears ready to spark?
"We love our assets, we really do," he said. "We feel like it's very different; we're competing against these big monoliths, but there's a certain advantage to being nimble, to have the ability to move as quickly as we do. Look, Comcast is going to be big, Disney is already big, Fox/Time Warner, if that happens, they're going to be big. But you know what? We've always been able to do well."
While Time Warner rejected an $80 billion bid from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, it's considered likely that Murdoch will continue to pursue the deal.
Moonves says media stock growth over the last few days since the offer was revealed suggests "Wall Street obviously thinks there's going to be more consolidation." And he's ready with extra cash from the recent sale of CBS' outdoor advertising business. "That was our intent, to get rid of billboards and potentially buy more content. We're in a very advantageous position."
Unlike NBC, which has MSNBC, CBS is without a secondary news outlet to spread the costs of its news division. ABC announced, then cancelled, plans to start its own news channel years ago, but now has Fusion, a joint venture with Univision that combines news and lifestyle programming.