• This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," January 3, 2006, that was edited for clarity.

    NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: With us now, the chief of CBS, Leslie Moonves. CBS began trading on the Big Board today, after splitting from Viacom — shares jumping about 3 percent — his news division all over this coal mining story as well.

    It is a big story, isn't it?

    LESLIE MOONVES, PRESIDENT, CBS CORPORATION: It is a big story. It's pretty exciting that the CBS Corporation is back on its own. And, you know, it was a big day for us.

    CAVUTO: Do you get involved in CBS News matters, like that, or do you stay hands off?

    MOONVES: I have, obviously, you know, in some of the things that've happened in the past.

    The deal with memo-gate was something that, obviously, I was very actively involved in. But, fortunately, I have a new head of news named Sean McManus, who is a spectacular executive. And he's handling the day-to-day things. And most of the decisions come from him.

    CAVUTO: All right.

    Let's talk about things having nothing to do with what's going on in West Virginia right now, and to what's happening in your company.

    Talk is, Katie Couric is coming to take Dan Rather's place.

    MOONVES: You know, we don't speak about any prospective person. Right now, Katie Couric is under contract to NBC. She is until May. And that is about all we will say.

    CAVUTO: Would you be willing to pay $20 million a year?

    MOONVES: I'm not going to talk about Katie Couric.

    CAVUTO: All right. What about our own Shepard Smith?

    MOONVES: Shepard Smith certainly is worth $20 million. That I will tell you right now.


    CAVUTO: So, he's in. Katie, you're debating it.


    CAVUTO: What do you make of the attention this is getting? It's has been no secret you have not exactly been in love with the news division, the old days. I think talk was that you thought they were a bit elitist, a bit snobby.

    MOONVES: No.


    CAVUTO: Mary Mapes has said much in her book about you.

    MOONVES: No, but I think Mary Mapes' book shall remain — you know, I — I don't need to talk about that.

    CAVUTO: But she trashes a lot.

    MOONVES: Right. I know that. I know that. But that...

    CAVUTO: Did that bother you?

    MOONVES: No, not really, not really. You know, the news division is very important to me and to CBS. It's had a great tradition.

    I think it's still a spectacular division in our company. And, you know, we are very proud of it. As I said, we have new leadership there. And there's a new producer, new head of "The Evening News." And I think you're going to see big changes at CBS News. And they have already begun. And I'm very proud of the division.

    CAVUTO: But you didn't like the way it was going.

    And memo-gate, according to Mary Mapes, was one of the things that was the ammunition you needed to go after...


    MOONVES: Neil, you're quoting a lady who was let go by CBS, you know? So, she wrote a book defending her position. You know, you can read the book or not. And I'm not allowed to comment on it.

    CAVUTO: Would you like to see an anchor team, like ABC?

    MOONVES: You know, we are not sure yet. We are still working out different ways of going with this thing. And, you know, there are many different ways we can go with it.

    CAVUTO: OK. But you're not going to tell me, apparently.

    MOONVES: No, not now.

    CAVUTO: OK. Good. Let's get a sense of where the media industry is going.


    CAVUTO: Remember when Time Warner, you know, got together with AOL. Everyone thought, there's going to be this super concentration. Now you're all de-concentrating. What's going on?

    MOONVES: Well, there's no question the Time Warner-AOL merger was not the greatest merger in the history of business, you know?