Ever since media mogul Sumner Redstone split Viacom and CBS into two separate companies (he's chairman of both), they've become increasingly competitive. And just this Sunday, Viacom's Paramount Pictures studio said it's no longer going to distribute movies to CBS' Showtime.
Rupert Murdoch's media empire is shaking up the management structure, and putting son James Murdoch in a bigger job that sets him up to succeed his dad. Here's the news: 34-year old James Murdoch was appointed head of Europe and Asia, and replacing his dad as chairman of BSkyB, where until now he was CEO. So, yeah, James is really young, but his experience sets him up for this job quite well.
CBS announced second-quarter earnings that disappointed on the top line, beat expectations on the bottom line, and landed flat with growth-hungry Wall Street. Revenue disappointed--down 3% to $3.37 billion on a loss of TV revenue from shutting down UPN and the timing of the NCAA basketball tournament.
The conflict between Sumner Redstone, chairman of Viacom and CBS, and daughter Shari Redstone, vice chairman of the two media companies, grew more bitter on Friday: The paterfamilias publicized his displeasure with Shari's ostensible ambition to succeed him, in a harshly-worded letter to Forbes.
Earnings misses by tech darling Google and Caterpillar, one of the Dow's power drivers, are adding to a wobbly opening on Wall Street. Citigroup though is a bright spot with a better than expected 18 percent profit gain and record revenues from investment banking and overseas business.
Sumner Redstone thinks he'll live forever. Last fall on CNBC's "Conversations with Michael Eisner" when Eisner asked what his succession plan was, he said he'd live forever. If Thursday's news is any indication he was serious! It's been widely reported--first in Fortune and then also immediately in The Wall Street Journal, that Sumner and Shari Redstone had a huge falling out and that Shari would be stepping down from Viacom's board--presumably trading her stake in Viacom and CBS for full ownership of National Amusements, the theater chain which she currently runs and also has a stake in.
I snagged Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone for a sit down interview during Allen & Co's day of tech panels. I was glad to catch him as last night, as Google Chariman and CEO Eric Schmidt told a bunch of reporters asking about Viacom's lawsuit against Google--that Viacom has "built its business on lawsuits."
"Transformers" took the box office by storm this weekend, bringing in a total of $152 million at the domestic box office since it opened on Tuesday, and a total of about $250 million worldwide. This isn't just a nice summer opening--this is huge news for Paramount, which is going to get a huge boost from this hit: not just from its take on this film, but also from the fact that it's Paramount's first potential franchise since Mission Impossible. And unlike the MI series, they're not relying on a huge star (Tom Cruise), nor are they paying him a huge chunk of gross.
I attended the "Transformers" premiere Wednesday night--and my first star spotting epitomized the importance of the film for its parent company. It was Sumner Redstone (he qualifies as a star for the CNBC set) and he was slowly retreating from the hubbub of the red carpet and (surrounded by bodyguards) slipping into a black car.
Viacom and CBS shareholders are better off since the company split a year and a half ago, Sumner Redstone told CNBC's Maria Bartiromo. "I would do it again and over and over again and shareholders are definitely better," said Redstone, who remains executive chairman of both companies.
A transcript of a CNBC interview with Viacom and CBS Chairman Sumner Redstone aired on June 6, 2007 during "Closing Bell."
So publishing queen Judith Regan went all Gibson on her colleague and got the boot from Harper Collins parent, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. So, you could draw the conclusion that there are a lot of closeted anti-semites in media who are getting exposed. I think that's hardly it.