The merger between CBS Corporation and Viacom, Inc. — the largest media transaction in history — will result in changes for the country music industry.
In addition to CBS-owned country radio stations, CBS Cable networks TNN and Country Music Television (CMT), as well as the Internet website, country.com, will soon be under the Viacom umbrella. The agreement between the media companies, which was announced Tuesday morning, is expected to close in the first half of the year 2000.
“Today’s competitive media environment is about consolidation, and this merger makes great sense because Viacom and CBS don’t duplicate a lot of efforts,” said Martin Clayton, Vice President/General Manager, Interactive Media, CBS Cable. “The properties they have and the properties we have line up nicely. We really don’t overlap much in our businesses and yet we compliment each other, adding to the strength of the whole.”
The new company will be called Viacom, but the CBS brand name will continue to identify the TV network, as well as other properties, such as the CBS Radio Network.
The new, combined company will be a powerhouse of TV, radio and movies. The merged company will include:
Industry-leading cable networks, including MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, TNN, CMT, MTV2, TV Land, Home Team Sports and Midwest Sports Channel; pay channels Showtime, The Movie Channel and FLIX, and interests in Comedy Central, Noggin and Sundance Channel, and significant cable programming operations worldwide;
A majority interest in Infinity Broadcasting Corporation, the premier radio and outdoor media company in the world;
The largest television group in the nation, including the CBS Television Network, the #1 broadcast network in the industry for the 1998-1999 television season, and stations in all top ten markets and 18 of the top 20 markets in the nation, with the potential for strong TV duopolies in Philadelphia, Boston, Dallas and other top U.S. markets;
Paramount Pictures, a leader in theatrical motion pictures since 1912, with more than 2,500 titles in its library, including such Oscar winners as Forrest Gump, Braveheart and Titanic (the highest grossing motion picture of all time);
Pre-eminent production and syndication operations, with CBS Productions, Paramount Television, Eyemark Entertainment, Viacom Productions, Spelling Television, and, subject to the completion of CBS’s pending acquisition, King World Productions, Inc., among others, all contributing content, sales and distribution capability;
Simon & Schuster, a leading consumer book publisher, which, during the last year, placed 64 titles on The New York Times Best Sellers list;
Blockbuster Video, the world’s leading retailer of rentable home videocassettes, DVDs and video games, with over 6,000 stores in 27 countries;
Five theme parks, which entertain more than 13 million visitors annually, and another distribution channel for the company’s entertainment content;
A significant and growing Internet presence, with brands on some of the best-known sites on the Web, including cbs.sportsline.com, cbs.marketwatch.com, mtv.com, SonicNet.com, vh1.com, Nick.com. and country.com.
The merger was the biggest in the media business since Disney’s purchase of Capital Cities/ABC for a then-record $19 billion in 1996.
Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone will be chairman and chief executive of the new entity. CBS president Mel Karmazin will be president and chief operating officer. All operations in the new company will report to Karmazin.
The merger is a reunion of sorts for the two companies. The company that became Viacom was spun off from CBS in the 1970s because of government rules, which have since been repealed, that prevented networks owning their own programming.