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TV eyes branding issues

Moonves sees 'special mentions' as revenue source

While movies such as “Minority Report” seamlessly incorporate product placement in their content, TV is still wrestling with the same issue, according to CBS prexy-CEO Leslie Moonves.

“With a ‘Survivor’ and ‘Amazing Race,’ it fits,” Moonves said. “With the dramas and the comedies, it doesn’t fit in as easily.”

But speaking to reporters during CBS’ portion of the Television Critics Assn. press tour, Moonves pointed to the abundance of advertiser messages in “Report” and noted that, “If Steven Spielberg can do it, I guess we can do it,” he said.

“As we look to the future of network television and broadcast television, we have to look at this as another source of revenue,” he added.

In the case of “Survivor,” CBS has minted money by pacting with advertisers such as Mountain Dew to buy spots at premium prices in exchange for special mention of the brand within an episode.

Moonves and CBS Entertainment prexy Nancy Tellem said the concept of integrated marketing still doesn’t sit well with the creative community.

“It has to be organic,” Tellem said. We’re sensitive to making sure our creative is not impacted.”

Added Moonves: ” ‘CSI’ is a tougher show to have product placement on than ‘Everybody Loves Raymond. How do you do an autopsy and have a Diet Coke next to it?”

Also at the tour Monday:

  • CBS announced its Sept. 11 retrospective plans, including a rebroadcast of the net’s “9/11” documentary, from filmmakers Jules and Gedeon Naudet, on Sept. 8.

    On the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks, the net will air special editions of “60 Minutes” and “60 Minutes II” as well as a special broadcast at 10 p.m. in primetime on Sept. 11.

  • Eye said it will roll out the majority of its fall sked during premiere week, which kicks off Sept. 23.

    The network’s Monday night lineup, including new laffer “Still Standing” and new drama “CSI: Miami,” bows that night. CBS’ Tuesday sked premieres Sept. 24, save “Judging Amy,” which returns the following week (Oct. 1).

    In “Amy’s” place, the net will debut frosh drama “Presidio Med.” Skein then moves to its permanent home the following night, Sept. 25, as the net rolls out its Wednesday sked, except for “Amazing Race 3,” which shows up the next week (Oct. 2).

    For Thursdays, “Survivor: Thailand” gets an early start, premiering Sept. 19. The rest of the night’s shows bow Sept. 26, including new drama “Without a Trace.” Friday’s lineup, including new dramas “Hack” and “Robbery Homicide Division,” shows up the following night (Sept. 27).

    Saturday checks in Sept. 28, while Sunday’s sked — including new laffer “Bram and Alice” and the 35th season premiere of “60 Minutes” — starts Sept. 29.

  • Moonves revealed a new wrinkle to David Letterman’s contract negotiations last spring.

    According to the exec, Letterman’s negotiators asked CBS to include a stipulation in his new contract that “CSI” spinoff “CSI: Miami” would air at 10 p.m. Letterman believed the show would guarantee more eyeballs for his “Late Show.”

    “CSI: Miami” ultimately did get the 10 p.m. slot on Mondays — but Moonves said the language wasn’t included in Letterman’s deal.

    “We did not guarantee that to them in the contract,” Moonves said. “But clearly it was something that we thought about and was important.”

  • Thesp Ving Rhames will appear on CBS’ “The District” in a recurring role this season as the U.S. attorney general.

  • With ABC mulling plans to move the Academy Awards to the last Sunday in February, the Eye hasn’t yet figured out where it will schedule the Grammy Awards.

    The Grammys traditionally air the last Wednesday of the February sweeps, but CBS and the Recording Academy previously announced plans to move the kudocast to a Sunday next year. Should the Oscars move to the end of February, the Grammys most likely would shuffle to the first Sunday of the month, Moonves said.

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