Over lunch, at the bar and over the cubicle wall

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CBS keeping up with those Web whippersnappers.
Don’t go slapping that old media label on CBS. Chairman Les Moonves -- who has already forged ahead in the newfangled technology realm by beefing up CBS News Web sites and jumping into the video-on-demand wagon with a Comcast deal to let viewers watch prime-time shows on demand for 99 cents -- is now tossing around potential partner names like Google and Yahoo.

Photo: AP
CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves
“They need our content, we need their technology,” he told Reuters yesterday, referring to broader discussions with Internet companies. “We argue about which is more important. I think ultimately my content, no matter how you get it, content is still the most important thing.”

With online video at the cusp of a tipping point, Moonves also said he was talking to the Web portals about video search as well as VOD opportunities. He also said he was talking to DirecTV about a VOD deal.

All this activity comes weeks before the anticipated split of Viacom into two companies (Viacom and CBS Corp.), which Chairman-CEO Sumner Redstone hopes will unlock shareholder value. The one run by Tom Freston was dubbed the “faster-growing” company and includes MTV and Viacom’s other cable assets, while Moonves was given the “slower-growing” one, getting old-media businesses like CBS and radio.

But Les seems determined to prove he can outpace Freston. Nothing like a little sibling rivalry to get things going. Are you impressed yet Sumner?

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