Golden Globes Trial: Les Moonves Says CBS Might Have Outbid NBC

Top CBS exec was willing to pay $25 to $30 million a year for rights to the Golden Globes — significantly more than NBC paid

Updated, 6:00 p.m. PST

CBS President and Chief Executive Officer Les Moonves testified that the network would have paid millions more than NBC for the TV rights for the Golden Globe Awards.

In a written deposition submitted to the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for the ongoing legal battle between Dick Clark Productions and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association over TV rights to the popular show, the network chief admitted that he was willing to pay between $25 million and $30 million for the broadcast.

That is more than the $21 million NBC pays annually for the awards show. It’s not clear that CBS would have matched the seven years that NBC offered in return for the rights for the broadcast.

Also read: Golden Globes Trial Exposes Dick Clark CEO’s Misleading Negotiating Tactics

Moonves is considered a key witness in the ongoing legal battle between DCP and the HFPA over the rights to the popular awards show. DCP is the longtime production company behind the highly rated broadcast, while the HFPA is the non-profit group that hosts the awards show.

Read court filings here

The HFPA claims that DCP renegotiated its contract without its consent and without putting it out for bid to other networks.

DCP has countered that under its agreement with the HFPA, its contract to produce the show and command 50 percent of its broadcast rights automatically renews every time NBC extends its contract.

After a lengthy back and forth about whether he would be forced to appear in person, Moonves’ testimony was submitted in writing. By calling on the CBS chief, the HFPA hopes to demonstrate that DCP deprived the group of millions of dollars by foregoing a competitive bidding process.

During a 2010 lunch with HFPA Chairman Philip Berk, Moonves said he would go as long as five years. The current pact with NBC totals seven years and $150 million, but Moonves indicated that he was willing to be flexible in his negotiations.

“…as I said, it was an opening offer. And anyone who does these negotiations knows there’s more room than that when you put it out,” Moonves said.

“When he asked me for a number, I actually though we had an opportunity to be in the bidding,” he added.

Attorneys for DCP have objected to much of Moonves testimony, saying that the case is not about what kind of compensation the HFPA would have received from other networks. Instead, they contend that it is a very narrow contractual dispute centering on whether or not DCP retains its rights to the broadcast when NBC extends its deal.

“…Moonves’s statement regarding what CBS would be prepared to pay for the Golden Globes has no bearing on the contract interpretation issues,” Martin Katz and Ronald Olson, attorneys for DCP, wrote in their objection.

They further claim that it is unclear if the $25 million bid would include other revenue streams such as digital rights and the pre-show. That would substantially reduce the size of Moonves’ hypothetical bid, DCP attorneys argue. Under the HFPA’s current pact with NBC, the awards group can sell ancillary rights to other bidders.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report