Magazine article Variety

CBS and Viacom: A Bad Romance

Magazine article Variety

CBS and Viacom: A Bad Romance

Article excerpt

America's favorite on-again, off-again relationship might be back on.

No, not Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez - CBS Corp. and Viacom. The companies have reportedly begun a series of exploratory meetings to work out a potential merger.

We've watched these two play footsy with each other for so long that their dynamic has taken on that classic will-they-or-won't-they formula from your favorite romantic comedy.

But there's a plot twist this time around. Tired of flirtations that went nowhere in late 2016, National Amusements president Shari Redstone seems ready to officiate a shotgun wedding. Because Redstone has controlling stakes in both companies, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves and Viacom CEO Bob Bakish are being nudged to the altar whether they like it or not.

It's not difficult to see why Redstone has changed her tune from letting these lovebirds go their separate ways to a forced reunion. Look at pending mergers between AT&T and Time Warner, Disney and Fox, Discovery and Scripps. To achieve the kind of scale that gives them a fighting chance against the tech world's colossi, everyone is mating like rabbits.

The peer pressure to couple is enormous, but does that mean CBS and Viacom would be together for the right reasons? There's some logic to believing that wouldn't be the case.

Who could blame Moonves for having cold feet considering the distressed state of Viacom? While Bakish deserves credit for wiping away plenty of the dust and rust that have collected on the oncegreat brands in his portfolio, like MTV and Nickelodeon, the sad fact is that the neglect they suffered for too long during the Philippe Dauman era will take many more years to reverse. …

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