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CBS, Viacom reunite amid TV content war

AP file photo

A CBS logo is displayed in Foxborough, Mass., in February 2012.

Reuters CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc. have reached a deal to reunite media mogul Sumner Redstone’s U.S. entertainment empire, betting that a larger company will be able to compete and partner better in a media industry dominated by giants.

The new company will be named ViacomCBS Inc., although CBS shareholders will own 61 percent and Viacom shareholders will own 39 percent.

The merger will combine the CBS television network, CBS News, Showtime cable networks with MTV Networks, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and the Paramount movie studios. Together, they will own more than 140,000 TV episodes and 3,600 film titles. Annually, it is estimated to generate about $28 billion in revenue. It creates a company with roughly a $30 billion market value, which is still small compared with rivals including Netflix Inc. at $136 billion, ABC network owner Walt Disney Co. at $245 billion, and NBC owner Comcast Corp. at $193 billion.

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  • AP file photo

    A Viacom logo is seen at Viacom headquarters in New York in August 2011.

The merging companies are controlled by National Amusements Inc., the holding company owned by billionaire Sumner Redstone and his daughter, Shari. “My father once said ‘content is king,’ and never has that been more true than today,” Shari Redstone said in a statement.

The third attempt at a merger since 2016 is a decisive win for Shari Redstone, whose father built the companies through a series of mergers and then broke them apart 13 years ago. Previous merger talks had failed because of clashes between executives over divvying up top jobs and the companies’ relative valuation.

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