Leslie Moonves Doesn’t Foresee CBS Corp. Reuniting with Viacom

Ten years after Sumner Redstone split CBS and Viacom into separate companies, Leslie Moonves doesn’t envision the two entities ever coming back together.

In a keynote Q&A Wednesday morning at the WSJD Live event in Laguna Beach, Calif., the CBS Corp. CEO cited the stark differences between the companies’ portfolios as the reason they will stay separate.

“I do not see a scenario where the companies come back together, we’re on totally different paths,” said Moonves. “There’s no value for us or to them for putting that back together. I don’t foresee that happening in the future.”

Speculation about a recombining of the two companies has come in vogue in recent months as the health of Redstone, executive chairman of both companies, has been called into question, and consolidation is seen on Wall Street as an inevitability for media businesses needing to gird themselves for negotiations with increasingly large distributors and competition with tech giants.

Asked about how involved Redstone is in the company, Moonves replied, “He is very much engaged.”

Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman has previously also negated the possibility of joining forces with CBS Corp. In May, Moonves also nixed the possibility that he could lead an investor group to acquire his company.

Moonves addressed a wide range of issues regarding the state of CBS Corp., playing down the meltdown that knocked media stocks for a loop back in August. “I think the market drastically overreacted,” he said, citing the health of the company’s ad sales efforts in the third quarter.

He also weighed in on the “peak TV” controversy, disagreeing with the notion that there is too much TV being made yet acknowledging that the the high volume of content creates production challenges. “At a time there is so much coming out, it’s harder and harder to get top talent,” said Moonves.

In addition, Moonves had huge praise for Stephen Colbert, who he said has made an impact as CBS’ new late-night host after just six weeks on the air. “Needless to say, his numbers are better than David (Letterman’s) were and far younger,” he said. “He has brought the 18-34 males with him; getting the 18-34 males is very lucrative.”

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