Sumner M Redstone, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Viacom Inc, ditto National Amusements Inc, on Thursday graciously consented to grant audience to the Right Honourable Tony Blair MP, Prime Minister of Her Majesty’s Government, First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service.
Less formally put: tenacious head honcho of the world’s fourth largest media group called on tenacious head honcho of the world’s fourth largest advertising market for a lunchtime beer and sandwich. It is not known who paid.
The main purpose of Redstone’s visit was not officially revealed (indeed his visit was denied earlier this week by a Downing Street spokesperson), although few will believe their cosy chat did not centre around the possible acquisition by Viacom – annual revenues $14 billion (€13.98bn; £8.94bn) – of a merged ITV plc (annual combined revenues $4.08bn).
Said a Viacom spokeswoman: “The UK is by far Viacom’s biggest market outside the US, and the group employs over 10,000 people here. I think Tony Blair is interested in Sumner Redstone’s perspective on the media environment.” Viacom controls all bus and subway advertising in London, as well as TV channel Paramount Comedy and the UCI national cinema chain.
Added the spokesmaiden in cryptic mode: “With all that’s been going on in the media marketplace, there is a lot of interest in Sumner right now. He is like the last man standing in the industry.”
In the world media pecking order Viacom is either number four (by earnings), lagging AOL Time Warner, Vivendi Universal and Walt Disney; or number one (by market capitalization – $62.6 billion on the New York Stock Exchange as of Thursday).
Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff