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Viacom CEO Bob Bakish Talks CBS Merger Rumors, #MeToo Movement, Censorship

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish addressed rumors of a possible merger with CBS during an appearance at the Milken Institute Global Conference on Monday.

Bakish stayed mostly mum on the topic, saying he has directed his team to “stay focused” and “keep moving the company forward, not focus on what he described as “the third time this rumor mill has gone around.”

“At the end of the year you’re either going to be talking to me or somebody else,” he said. “What you don’t want to say is, ‘We were on track but we got distracted and we didn’t deliver.'” Bakish also looked ahead to the upcoming upfronts season, where he estimated Viacom would close $2 billion in ad dollars when all is said and done.

“There’s always noise. There’s always distractions,” he said. “You have to play through and see where it goes.”

Bakish also addressed the rise of the #MeToo movement, which he said ultimately comes down to “the topic of culture” at corporations.

“We have open lines and all kinds of transparency,” he said. “Knock on wood, we haven’t had any massive issues.”

He also touched on the topic of regulation and censorship, saying that if content is to be regulated, he prefers the regulations to at least be consistent.

“I do get emails on a regular basis from people complaining about something someone did,” he said. “I got a bunch of emails about something Trevor Noah did last week. The first time you get those, it’s kind of jarring, but, at the end of the day, people are choosing what content to watch. They don’t have to watch our content.”

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