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Stocks V / Viacom, Inc.


Subject:  Re: Viacom Loses a Star Date:  6/3/2004  4:05 PM
Author:  Goofyhoofy Number:  208 of 312

The question is: Does Karmazin's departure significantly affect the future of Viacom? My answer: Probably not.

Well, I'll guess it sure affects some parts of the company.

Radio, for instance. Time Warner doesn't have a radio division. NBC (GE) doesn't have a radio division. Fox doesn't have a radio division. Disney has a small division, almost completely ungrown since deregulation allowed you to own 1,000 stations instead of 14.

If they didn't have Blockbuster to spin-away (since nobody wants to buy it, and they're going to force it on shareholders as a special present) I'd say they're likely to spin off radio as well. It's a standalone, it doesn't really contribute to films, publishing, theme parks, television, cable, or anything else.

And then there's the Stern problem.

Radio is what, about 15% of the business? (Don't kill me; I'm too lazy to look it up right now.) If Mel doesn't land the Disney job (or equivalent), I'll look for him to buy it and own most of it himself.

[I also note the departure of the Chairman of Viacom Entertainment Group, Jonathan Dolgen. (He oversaw Paramount Pictures, among other things.) Freston & Moonves were given his portfolio even before he resigned, so it was obvious, and inevitable. He got along with Mel (he was tightfisted and cost conscious) and that put him on the wrong side of the room. Redstone announced they were going to put "more money" into financing pictures, something Dolgen didn't want to do.]

So I'd expect changes. Maybe more. I note that neither Freston nor Moonves have spent a day "in radio", and that MTV has exactly nothing to do with the radio industry nor with running radio stations, so rotsa ruck. That doesn't mean that there isn't a competent lieutenant down there somewhere, but the radio division just lost some expertise and the film division is on a new experiment as well.

Yeah, I'd say "maybe some changes."

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