Shari Redstone, whose National Amusements controls CBS and Viacom, is likely to replace CBS CEO Les Moonves if a deal isn't reached between the two companies as the media tie-up hits an impasse, sources familiar with the situation said.
The main obstacle to the rejoining of the network and owner of Nickelodeon and MTV is a growing distrust between Redstone and Moonves. As CNBC previously reported, Moonves wants to pick his own management team if he is to head the combined entity and favors Joe Ianniello, chief operating officer of CBS, as his key lieutenant. Redstone, however, wants Bob Bakish, the current CEO of Viacom, as No. 2.
Redstone is also expected to replace the CBS board if a deal isn't reached, the sources said.
Previously, Moonves was believed to have agreed with Redstone to run the combined company for at least two years.
"National Amusements has tremendous respect for Les Moonves and it has always been our intention that he run a combined company," the holding company said in a statement.
CBS shares were down 1.5 percent on Wednesday and Viacom shares were off by 1 percent. National Amusements, founded by Redstone's father, Sumner, owns an 80 percent of each company.
"The industry and the marketplace know Leslie Moonves' record and we think it speaks for itself," CBS said in a statement in response to this story.