Reports that Sumner M Redstone, chairman/ceo of US media group Viacom, informed the company’s board on Wednesday that he will not renew the contract of president/chief operating officer Mel Karmazin were dismissed as “outrageous and a total fabrication” by the two men concerned.

However, despite the vehement denial, speculation has been rife for months about a rift between the two, with Redstone also alleged to have sent scathing memos about his colleague to other executives. On Wednesday, Viacom’s board officially asked the pair to bury the hatchet for the sake of the firm.

Redstone, revealed insiders reportedly close to the board, argued that the management style of Karmazin was incompatible with the group’s culture. He apparently added that Karmazin was not the man he wanted to lead the company, and losing him would not hurt its stock.

In response, Karmazin – previously at CBS until it was taken over by Viacom in 1999 – reportedly announced he would see out his contract until it ends in May 2003.

News source: New York Times