CBS’ board is getting set for possible merger talks with Viacom, according to a report by CNBC.
According to the news channel, citing unnamed sources, talks between the two are set to begin in mid-June, although they could begin before that. CNBC reports that Viacom CEO Bob Bakish would likely be in line to lead the combined entity.
A merger between the pair would mark the fulfilment of the CBS vice-chair Shari Redstone’s long-term ambition to bring the pair together at a time when consolidation amongst traditional media groups in the face of competition from global tech giants is seen as sine qua non.
The Redstone family’s investment vehicle National Amusements, is the controlling shareholder of both companies. Redstone’s ambition to effect a merger between them met with strong resistance from CBS CEO Les Moonves until his forced departure last year in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal.
CBS owns rights to National Football League games but its hold on these could be under threat without the financial capability to compete against possible new entrants to the market such as Amazon.
According to CNBC, National Amusements would look to quickly follow up a merger between CBS and Viacom with a second deal, with speculation focusing on a potential acquisition of Discovery Communications. Other potential targets include Sony Pictures and MGM. CNBC reported in January that Discovery was interested in selling to CBS.
Recently, there has been speculation that CBS could also look to acquire Lionsgate owned Starz to boost its range of outlets for content distribution.