Moonves: ‘Good Things Happening’ With WGA

Jan 23, 2008  •  Post A Comment

“Clearly there are good things happening,” an upbeat CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves said Wednesday. He was speaking about the news that the striking Writers Guild of America had announced it would not picket the Grammy Awards ceremony to be broadcast by CBS Feb. 10 and had pulled some problematic issues off the table.
“They realize the artists on the Grammys are supportive of them and they are allowing them to do their thing,” Mr. Moonves said after a press conference announcing a big new initiative for Last.fm, the online music and social networking community CBS bought last year.
One aspect of the Last.fm. business plan is licensing agreements with music labels and independent and up-and-coming acts that pays royalties for each play of an act’s music on the Web site, which attracts some 20 million unique visitors per month.
The major issue with the WGA—and with the Directors Guild of America, which last week came to a tentative agreement with the AMPTP after just six days of negotiations—is new-media residuals.
Asked about the fact that royalties are part of Last.fm’s game plan and vision—“We’ve always tried to do the right thing,” Last.fm Co-Founder and Chief Content Officer Martin Stiksel said during the press conference—Mr. Moonves said: ‘What’s exciting is that we made the deals with the record companies. The artists are going to get paid for Internet usage. I think it’s a big step in the right direction for the music business, obviously through us.”
When pressed about the coincidence between the new deal and the stalled talks, Mr. Moonves said, “All I want to say about that is that we have never denied that all the artists should be paid for the new media. We’re supportive of that.”
The CBS executive said the WGA’s no-picket decision will not mean an amped-up Grammy ceremony, since that is already largely set.
“But we appreciated the gesture on the part of the WGA,” he said. “It was a nice gesture.”


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