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Les Moonves

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Autor:   •  July 18, 2011  •  666 Words (3 Pages)  •  290 Views

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Les Moonves is known to be highly committed to the success of CBS and equally concerned about his own image. Moonves fired Imus, his critics say, not out of any sense of social justice but only after it became clear that Imus was becoming a liability to the network and a personal embarrassment to Moonves (Moonves’s detractors note that he only cut Imus loose after seeing his rival Jeff Zucker, the president of NBC Universal, release Imus from his MSNBC simulcast). Firing Imus was supposed to be an unqualified win for Moonves and the network. Yes, there would be a short-term revenue hit, but top advertisers were already dropping out, and others were threatening to follow suit. By firing Imus, Moonves could prevent further damage to the network and come out looking like a man of principle.

Only it hasn’t quite worked out that way. After Imus was fired, the ground under Moonves began shifting. WFAN started losing money. A lot of it. “Imus used to sell spots for $1,500 that are now going for, like, $200,” one source says. While in the months before Imus’s firing his ratings weren’t where they used to be, the elite demographics of his audience meant he was still printing money for his bosses. “He was like a golf tournament toward the end,” says John Mainelli, a radio-industry consultant who until recently was the program director for a CBS-owned radio station. “He didn’t have big numbers, but he had so-called вЂ?quality’ numbers, politicians and high-income people.”

The station tried replacements for months, but none seemed to work. There were conspiracy theories that some of the folks at WFAN who had always disagreed with the decision to can Imus weren’t trying very hard to replace him. Fill-ins like Geraldo Rivera and John McEnroe didn’t generate much by way of excitement or ratings. In July, WFAN celebrated the station’s twentieth anniversary by running a “Best of Imus” clip show, during which Mike Francesa, the popular co-host of “Mike and the Mad Dog,” thanked Imus and said twice that he hoped that, come September, they will “be a complete team” again. In a Daily News online poll conducted in late June, 94 percent of respondents supported Imus’s reinstatement.

Perhaps more than anything, it was the lawsuit that changed things. No one at CBS will confirm it had an effect, but after it was filed, network executives began considering the unthinkable: bringing Imus back. Giving Imus his


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