×

Viacom

New York

Revenue: $23.2 billion

Net loss: $140 million

Viacom execs have been almost giddy while giant media mergers crumble around them. Chief operating officer Mel Karmazin joked recently that he wears a T-shirt saying: “We promise not to do anything stupid” — referring to the folks at rivals AOL Time Warner and Vivendi Universal.

Chairman-CEO Sumner Redstone’s Viacom merged with Karmazin and CBS nearly three years ago. It was the first and most successful of the big deals that reshaped the media landscape. CBS’ TV, radio and outdoor advertising assets complemented Viacom’s cable nets and film studio. Together, the companies bought broadcast net UPN, cable net BET and expanded the TV station group with a coherent strategy that never depended on Internet gambles or high-tech projects. There are no accounting probes and no shareholder lawsuits.

The big question hanging over Viacom is the future of Karmazin, whose contract expires in 2003. The toppers, who haven’t always had a smooth ride together, have said they will discuss the issue at the end of this year. Industry players and Wall Streeters wondering who the aged Redstone will name as lieutenant if Karmazin leaves.

With 50% of its revenue from advertising, the company was hit hard by the economic downturn in the U.S. But execs said in July that the conglom is finally seeing an uptick in all its ad-driven sectors, including radio, which has been the slowest to turn around. But the health of Viacom and most media companies depends on the economic outlook, which some fear could continue to be cloudy.

Unlike some of its rivals, Viacom’s debt is modest and its cash position strong. But the company’s shares have been under pressure in a rocky market and it has shied away from big acquisitions — losing several deals to News Corp.’s Fox. It’s using some of its cash to buy back stock and is one of several bidders for bankrupt German giant Kirch Media.

More Scene

  • Amy Poehler Is Ready for a

    Amy Poehler Is Ready for a 'Parks and Rec' Reunion

    Is Amy Poehler just getting our hopes up? We hope not, because the funny lady tells Variety that she’s ready for a “Parks and Recreation” reunion. “I am technically available,” Poehler said on Monday at Smart Girls’ 10th anniversary celebration dinner. “I have like six of Leslie’s blazers in my closet, so anytime.” “Parks and Recreation” [...]

  • Meredith Walker, Rashida Jones, Amy Poehler,

    Inside Amy Poehler's Smart Girls 10th Anniversary Dinner (EXCLUSIVE)

    “I’ve made an observation I’d like to share. I’m the only one that’s eaten my crab cake,” joked Amy Poehler as she addressed the room during the round robin introductions being made at her Smart Girls 10th anniversary dinner on Monday night. The 16 women at the table, who were so enthralled in the conversation [...]

  • Alfonso Cuaron, Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de

    Alfonso Cuaron Says 'Roma' Is Better in Theaters

    Director Alfonso Cuaron opted to work with Netflix for his latest film “Roma,” but the decorated filmmaker isn’t discounting the importance of a big-screen viewing. “The complete experience of ‘Roma’ is unquestionably in a movie theater,” Cuaron said Monday night at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles for the premiere of “Roma.”  The streaming giant did [...]

  • Dylan O'Brien, Justin Theroux, Angela Bassett,

    Travis Knight on Getting the Call to Direct ‘Bumblebee’: ‘Did You Guys Get The Right Number?’

    “Bumblebee” director Travis Knight admits he couldn’t believe it when Paramount Studios and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura called him two years ago, asking him to helm the upcoming “Transformers” movie. “My initial question was, ‘Did you guys get the right number?'” Knight joked at Sunday’s premiere of “Bumblebee” at the Chinese Theater in Los Angeles. “You’ve seen [...]

  • Director Peter JacksonWarner Bros. Pictures THEY

    Peter Jackson Talks Transition From 'Hobbit' Movies to World War I Documentary

    Peter Jackson remains a bit astounded at his transition four years ago from the Shire of Middle Earth to the French battlefields of World War I. Jackson introduced his documentary “They Shall Not Grow Old” Friday night at the Linwood Dunn Theatre in Hollywood, four weeks after it aired on Armistice Day on the BBC. [...]

  • Hillary Clinton'Network' play opening night, New

    Hillary Clinton Attends Opening of Broadway's 'Network'

    A 1976 film might not be expected to translate seamlessly to Broadway in 2018, but for the cast and creative team behind “Network,” which premiered Thursday night with Hillary Clinton in the audience, the story still feels uncomfortably close to home. “It was a satire then, and now it’s documentary realism,” said Lee Hall, who [...]

  • Children's Defense Fund

    Angela Bassett, Conan O'Brien Honor Young Students at Children's Defense Fund Gala

    Awards season may be right around the corner, but on Thursday, Hollywood took a break from the glitz and glam to celebrate five high school students who have excelled academically despite facing extreme adversity both at home and in the classroom. The 29th annual Beat the Odds Awards ceremony at the Skirball Cultural Center featured [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content