King-sized closure

KW shareholders approve merger with CBS

HOLLYWOOD — After a long delay at the altar, CBS Corp. and King World Prods. finally got hitched Monday.

The merger between the two was finally made official following a special meeting of King World stockholders, who voted to approve the transaction by a 98% margin.

The shareholder meeting had been postponed several times after CBS and Viacom announced their own merger in September. KW execs said they delayed the meeting to investigate ramifications of that deal. The delays subsequently caused speculation that King World shareholders would bow out of the merger.

Eye on growth

“The closing of this merger with King World represents a significant step in our ongoing growth strategy,” said Mel Karmazin, prexy and CEO, CBS Corp. “Along with recent acquisitions in radio and outdoor, television stations and the Internet, this transaction helps us strengthen our diverse group of assets. Roger and Michael King have built King World into a dynamic company that will now serve as a terrific complement to our entire portfolio of properties, as we continue to build one of the premier media companies in the world.”

The merger combines KW assets such as gameshows “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy” and talkshow “Oprah” with Eyemark’s own shows, such as weekly actioner “Peter Benchley’s Amazon” and upcoming off-net runs of “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

Programming expertise

“This is a terrific day for CBS,” said Leslie Moonves, president and CEO, CBS Television. “King World is a leader in developing, producing and distributing top-quality, long-running programming for television syndication, and ‘Oprah,’ ‘Wheel of Fortune,’ ‘Jeopardy’ and ‘Hollywood Squares’ are among the most successful firstrun syndicated programs in history. King World, under the leadership of the King family, and Eyemark, under the leadership of Ed Wilson, now give us top-notch management teams in this fast-growing programming business.”

King World stockholders will receive 0.81 of a share of CBS common stock for each share of King World common stock.

“We are thrilled to now be a part of the CBS family,” commented Roger King, King World’s chairman and co-chief executive officer. Added Michael King, King World’s vice chairman and co-CEO, “It’s exciting to be an integral part of the world’s pre-eminent media company.”