MSOs realize it’s "better to get along than to fight." That was Les Moonves’ take on retrans during Tues’ CBS earnings call. The pres/CEO didn’t give details on 9 retrans deals it unveiled last week with smaller cable ops. "As I’ve said before, MSOs are already paying for networks," he said. "You can disguise it under other things as everybody has done… if you’re paying $3 for ESPN, you’re really paying $2.50 for ESPN and 50 cents for ABC." Moonves predicted more deals with small and "not-so-small" operators before the big operator deals come up in ’09 and ’10. "As you noticed, these 9 MSO deals were done without a whole lot of noise," he said. "There weren’t big newspaper ads. There weren’t big fights. There wasn’t anything pulled off the air." Moonves also didn’t rule out the notion that negotiations could begin with the country’s 2 largest MSOs before their deals expire. "Our relationships with Comcast are terrific…. We talk to them all the time," he said. "The same thing with Time Warner obviously." (CBS and Warner Bros jointly own The CW).

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