Leslie Moonves, CBS President, Addresses 'Big Brother' and 'NCIS' Controversy

'Big Brother' Racism is 'Absolutely Appalling,' He Says; Network Offered Cote De Pablo Big Bucks to Stay on 'NCIS'

Leslie Moonves, President of CBS, addressed issues with the broadcasting station's image Monday, including the "Big Brother" racism scandal and the recent departure of Cote de Pablo from "NCIS," television's top-rated show. Despite the negative news, Moonves said he was "confident" that ratings would increase overall this year.

Leslie Moonves was filling in for CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler, who was absent at the Television Critics Association press tour because of a friend's death, when he defended the network's image, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The most pressing issue seemed to be the "Big Brother" problems, which stemmed from various racist, homophobic, misogynistic and anti-Semitic comments contestants made.

"I find some of the behavior absolutely appalling," Moonves said, but added that the epithets are a "reflection of the way some people feel in America."

"Big Brother' obviously is a social experiment. It always was. Clearly that's what's happening this year," he explained, joking that his wife, "Big Brother" host Julie Chen, would "kill him" if he didn't watch the show.

CBS also released a statement at the time the comments were aired calling them "offensive" and added a disclaimer before the show airs. However, "Big Brother" isn't the only issue the network faces: Cote de Pablo, who plays popular character Ziva David on "NCIS," announced she would be leaving the show earlier this month. The move could potentially upset a ratings goldmine, as the show beat out even "Sunday Night Football" as the most-watched show on television.

"We offered Cote de Pablo a lot of money- and then we offered even more money," Moonves admitted. "We didn't want to lose her."

Her leaving the show after eight years puts the task of retaining of the show's 22 million viewers in jeopardy. "NCIS," which stands for Naval Criminal Investigative Service, is going into its 11th season Sept. 24, but de Pablo simply didn't want to be there anymore, saying she had "eight great years with [the show] and Ziva David."

"The producers were aware of what was going on," Mooves explained. "'NCIS' is the highest-rated show on TV. We did everything possible to keep her- she ultimately decided she didn't want to do the show."

The problems didn't seem to affect Moonves, though, who said he disagrees wholly with NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt's view that "flat (ratings) is the new up." TV has been suffering in recent years with the advent of Amazon, HBOGo, Roku, Netflix, Hulu, Vimeo and other streaming services.

"I don't necessarily agree with that. We're confident we're going up this year- we were up last year," the CBS President said. "We are traditional in how we approach the business, but we are still pretty nimble. We are open to any way of doing business as long as we can put on great shows and make a profit."