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Entertainment Media/Telecom

Viacom, CBS Merge. Now the Real Work Begins

It has taken over three years, but Viacom and CBS have finally announced a deal to merge.

While the combination was long-anticipated, negotiations got testy last night over last-minute details regarding the employment contracts of some of CBS’ top executives, including Joseph Ianniello, who is now chairman and CEO of CBS, according to people familiar with the discussions.

And that speaks to some of the challenges that the combined company’s chairman and CEO, Bob Bakish, will face going forward as he seeks to integrate the two entertainment concerns, which are both controlled by media mogul Shari Redstone.

The sister companies have a history of sibling rivalry. When Shari’s father, Sumner Redstone, split them up over a decade ago, CBS, which owns the broadcast network and Showtime, was thought to be the slow-growth company, compared with Viacom, which owns Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central. But under former management, Viacom’s growth stalled. 

More recently, Bakish has turned Viacom around, partially by breaking down the silos between its various networks and getting them to work together more closely. Now we’ll see if he can do that with the new ViacomCBS (which may not necessarily be the permanent name). 

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