Redstone, Karmazin Smoke Peace Pipe at Viacom

21 March 2003

The boardroom power-ego struggle at US media giant Viacom appears to be over with the striking of a new accord between chairman/ceo Sumner M Redstone and president/coo Mel Karmazin.

According to reports there has been considerable tension between the honchos for several months, with Redstone determined to recoup some of the power he ceded when Karmazin’s CBS network merged with Viacom in 2000. Karmazin, seen by many as the architect of Viacom’ recent growth, was equally determined to retain 100% of his management muscle.

Although many investors feared Karmazin might quit the company when his contract expires at the year end, it was announced Thursday that he and Redstone have signed new contracts, both of which take effect on May 5. Following the inking, the latter was fulsome in his praise of his former challenger.

“The CBS merger brought many great assets together under the Viacom name,” said Redstone, “and Mel has done a masterful job of integrating those businesses and operating them at peak performance. I look forward to continuing our successful partnership and taking Viacom to new heights in the years to come.”

Karmazin also switched to encomiastic mode: “Not only have I had the privilege of working with Sumner, one of the great visionaries and executives in the entertainment industry, but also the privilege of being associated with the most talented and disciplined management team in the media business.”

New York-headquartered Viacom also reported 2002 profits of $726 million (€684.86m; £464.67m) on $24.6 billion in revenue, reversing a $224 million loss in 2001.

Data sourced from: USA Today; additional content by WARC staff