Viacom Family Feud Sparks Sale Talk

23 July 2007

NEW YORK: Rather like the old showbiz maxim that actors should never work with children or animals, perhaps media moguls should beware of mixing business with family.

Tensions among such dynasties are not uncommon: viz the spats between News Corporation's Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch and Cablevision's Charles and James Dolan.

Media land's latest familial dispute concerns veteran Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone (84) and daughter Shari, who appears to have been sidelined by pop in the search for a successor to his crown.

The feud is reportedly so bitter that Shari, who was promoted to vice-chairman of the Viacom and CBS boards in 2005, could well depart the business, thereby prompting its sale.

Redstone senior recently bought-out the stake in Viacom held his lawyer son Brent to settle a lawsuit over junior's claim's he was left out of the decision-making process.

Over the years feisty Sumner has also fired top non-family executives, including Frank Biondi, current Sirius Satellite Radio ceo Mel Karmazin and, most recently Tom Freston.

A spokeswoman for scorned Shari denies she will quit Viacom: "Shari has not been asked to step down and has no intention of stepping down. Shari believes that she has an important role to serve on those boards."

Otherwise, all parties remain non-vocal.

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff