Viacom (1952–2005)

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Viacom Inc.
Formerly
  • CBS Television Film Sales (1952–1958)
  • CBS Films (1958–1968)
  • CBS Enterprises Inc. (1968–1970)
Company typePublic
NYSE: VIA
IndustryBroadcasting and publishing
FoundedMarch 16, 1952; 71 years ago (1952-03-16)
FounderRalph Baruch
DefunctDecember 31, 2005; 18 years ago (2005-12-31)
FateSplit into the second incarnations of CBS Corporation and Viacom
Successors
Headquarters,
United States
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
Sumner Redstone (Chairman and CEO)
Tom Freston (Co-President and Co-COO)
Les Moonves (Co-President and Co-COO)
ParentCBS
(1952–1971)
National Amusements
(1987–2005)
DivisionsCBS Radio
Viacom Productions
Viacom International
CBS News
CBS Sports
Viacom Outdoor
SubsidiariesCBS
Paramount Pictures
MTV Networks
Showtime Networks
BET Networks
Paramount Parks
Famous Players
Simon & Schuster
King World Productions
UPN
Westinghouse Licensing Corporation

The original incarnation of Viacom Inc.[a] (derived from "Video & Audio Communications") was an American mass media and entertainment conglomerate based in New York City. It began as CBS Television Film Sales, the broadcast syndication division of the CBS television network in 1952; it was renamed CBS Films in 1958, renamed CBS Enterprises in 1968, renamed Viacom in 1970, and spun off into its own company in 1971. Viacom was a distributor of CBS television series throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and also distributed syndicated television programs. The company went under Sumner Redstone's control in 1987 through his cinema chain company National Amusements.[3]

At the time of its split, Viacom's assets included the CBS and UPN broadcast networks, the Paramount Pictures film and television studio, local radio station operator CBS Radio, cable channels such as MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET and Showtime, outdoor media operator Viacom Outdoor, television production and distribution firm King World Productions, and book publisher Simon & Schuster. It also owned its IP holding subsidiary Viacom International and brand licensor Westinghouse Licensing Corporation.

In 2000, Viacom acquired the parent company of CBS, the former Westinghouse Electric Corporation, which became the original CBS Corporation in 1997. Viacom was split into the second CBS Corporation and Viacom incarnations — both remained under National Amusements ownership — in 2005;[4] the split was structured with the second CBS Corporation being the original Viacom's legal successor, and the second Viacom being an entirely new company. The two companies eventually re-merged in 2019, leading to the formation of ViacomCBS, now known as Paramount Global.

History[edit]

The evolution of Paramount
1912Famous Players Film Company is founded
1913Lasky Feature Play Company is founded
1914Paramount Pictures is founded as a film distributor
1916Famous Players and Lasky merge as Famous Players–Lasky and acquire Paramount
1920Group W forms with the launch of KDKA-AM
1927CBS is founded; Famous Players–Lasky assumes Paramount's name
1929Paramount buys 49% of CBS
1932Paramount sells back shares of CBS
1950Desilu is founded and CBS distributes its television programs
1952CBS creates the CBS Television Film Sales division
1958CBS Television Film Sales renamed to CBS Films
1966Gulf+Western buys Paramount
1968Gulf+Western acquires Desilu and renames it Paramount Television; CBS Films becomes CBS Enterprises
1970CBS Enterprises renamed to Viacom
1971Viacom is spun off from CBS as a separate company
1985Viacom buys full ownership of Showtime and MTV Networks
1986National Amusements buys Viacom
1989Gulf+Western renamed to Paramount Communications
1994Viacom acquires Paramount Communications
1995Westinghouse buys CBS
1997Westinghouse renamed to CBS Corporation
2000Viacom buys CBS Corporation
2001Viacom buys BET Networks
2005Viacom splits into second CBS Corporation and Viacom
2019CBS Corporation and Viacom re-merge to form ViacomCBS
2022ViacomCBS changes its name to Paramount Global

Viacom originated on March 16, 1952 — when CBS founded its broadcast syndication division, CBS Television Film Sales.[5][6][7] It renamed as CBS Films in October 1958.[8][9] On December 1, 1967, it again renamed as CBS Enterprises Inc..[10][11] On July 6, 1970, it announced that CBS Enterprises would be spin out from its parent company,[12] and the same month the division was incorporated as Viacom,[13][14][15][16][17] and spun off on January 1, 1971,[18] amid new FCC rules forbidding television networks from owning syndication companies (the rules were later repealed).

Viacom expanded its activities throughout the decade with a launch of a production unit, and later acquired the rights to various features from various studios.[19][20]

The original Viacom logo used from 1971 to 1976

In addition to CBS TV series syndication rights, Viacom also held cable systems with 90,000 cable subscribers, at that time the largest in the US. In 1976, Viacom launched Showtime, a pay movie channel, with Warner-Amex taking a half-share ownership. The company went into original programming production starting in the late 1970s until the early 1980s with middling results.[17] The company expanded in 1977 to launch a unit for program acquisitions and prime-time network programming.[21]

Expansion through acquisitions[edit]

Viacom's first broadcast station acquisition came in 1978 when the company purchased WHNB-TV in New Britain, Connecticut, changing its call letters to WVIT.[22] Two years later Viacom added the Sonderling Broadcasting chain, giving it radio stations in New York City, Washington, D.C., Houston, and San Francisco, and one television station, WAST (now WNYT) in Albany, New York.[23]

Logo from 1976 to 1989

In 1983 Viacom purchased KSLA in Shreveport, Louisiana,[24][25] and WHEC-TV in Rochester, New York,[26] in separate transactions. This was followed in 1986 with CBS-owned KMOX-TV in St. Louis; with the purchase, that station's call letters were changed to KMOV.[27][28]

Also in 1983, Viacom reacquired its premium channel Showtime, and later merged it with Warner-Amex's The Movie Channel forming Showtime/The Movie Channel, Inc.

Between the late 1980s and the early 1990s, Viacom syndicated several shows produced by Carsey-Werner Productions, namely The Cosby Show, A Different World and Roseanne.[29]

In 1985, Viacom acquired Showtime/The Movie Channel, Inc. from Warner-Amex, ending the joint venture. Around the same time, Viacom bought MTV Networks, which owned MTV, VH-1, and Nickelodeon.[30] This led to Viacom becoming a mass media company rather than simply a distribution company, and completed in 1986.

In 1987, Viacom sought to expand its horizons by launching the new Viacom Network Enterprises division, which was led by Ronald C. Bernard, in order to develop and exploit properties outside of the core cable business and the company would ride herd on diverse enterprises as Viacom's pay-per-view venture, Viewer's Choice, Satellite Direct, Inc. and SMA TV, and handle strategic planning and new business development for Viacom Networks Group, and would develop merchandising, licensing and home video business around the two Viacom subsidiaries it was currently operating, Showtime-The Movie Channel, Inc. and MTV Networks.[31]

In 1989, the company had set up its own division Viacom Pictures, to produce its feature films for television, most notably Showtime.[32]

Sumner Redstone, via his theater chain operator National Amusements, acquired a controlling interest in Viacom on June 10, 1987.[3] Redstone made a string of large acquisitions in the early 1990s, announcing plans to merge with Paramount Communications (formerly Gulf+Western), parent of Paramount Pictures, in 1993, and buying the Blockbuster Video chain in 1994. The acquisition of Paramount Communications on July 7, 1994, made Viacom one of the world's largest entertainment companies.[33] Also in 1993, WTXX entered into a part-time local marketing agreement with Viacom's NBC station WVIT.[34]

The Paramount and Blockbuster acquisitions gave Viacom access to large television holdings: An archive of programming controlled by Aaron Spelling's company which included, along with his own productions, the pre-1973 ABC and NBC libraries under Worldvision Enterprises and Republic Pictures; and an expanded group of television stations which merged Viacom's five existing outlets into Paramount's seven-station group. Viacom used some of these stations to launch the UPN network, which started operations in January 1995 as a joint venture with Chris-Craft Industries. Shortly afterward, Viacom/Paramount spent the next two years selling off its non-UPN affiliated stations to various owners. In 1997, Viacom exited the broadcast radio business, albeit temporarily, when it sold the majority of its stations to Chancellor Media, a predecessor company of iHeartMedia.

On September 7, 1999, Viacom announced their acquisition of CBS Corporation in a $35.9 billion deal. In addition to being the largest media merger in history at the time, the purchase effectively reunited Viacom with its former parent, CBS.[35][36] The merger was completed in May 2000, bringing CBS's cable channels TNN (now Paramount Network) and Country Music Television (CMT) under Viacom's MTV Networks wing, as well as CBS's production and distribution units Eyemark Entertainment (formerly Group W Productions) and King World under the main wing.[37] The merger also folded Viacom's broadcast group, now consisting entirely of UPN stations, into CBS's owned-stations division.[38][39]

In 2001, Viacom completed its purchase of BET Holdings, the owners of the Black Entertainment Television (BET) network.[40] As with CBS Cable, it was immediately integrated into MTV Networks, causing some outcry among BET workers in the Washington, D.C., area (where BET was based before the merger). As a result, BET was separated from MTV Networks, into a division known as BET Networks.

Although a majority economic interest in Viacom was held by independent shareholders, the Redstone family maintained 71-percent voting control of the company through National Amusements' holdings of Viacom's stock.

In 2002, Viacom's MTV Networks International bought independently run Dutch music video channel TMF, which at the time was broadcasting in Belgium and the Netherlands. In June 2004, MTVNI bought VIVA Media AG, the German equivalent to MTV. The same month, plans were announced to dispose of Viacom's interest in Blockbuster later that year by means of an exchange offer; the spinoff of Blockbuster was completed in October.

Also in 2002, Viacom acquired the remaining shares of Infinity Broadcasting radio chain, which resulted in Viacom's return to operating radio stations after it originally exited the broadcast radio business in 1997. In April 2003, Viacom acquired the remaining ownership shares of Comedy Central from then-AOL Time Warner, integrating Comedy Central into MTV Networks.

Viacom Cable[edit]

From its formation until 1995, Viacom operated several cable television systems generally located in the Dayton, San Francisco, Nashville and Seattle metropolitan areas.[41] Several of these were originally independent systems that CBS acquired in the 1960s. The division was known as Viacom Cablevision until the early 1990s, when it was renamed to Viacom Cable. By 1995, Viacom Cable had about 1.1 million subscribers. Viacom sold the division to TCI in 1995.[42] Viacom's cable assets are now part of Comcast.

Corporate spin-off[edit]

CBS Corporation logo (2005–2019)

In March 2005, Viacom announced that it would split into two companies – one would contain Viacom's "slow-growth" assets; the other would consist of the company's "high-growth" divisions[43] – under National Amusements' control because of a stagnating stock price. The internal rivalry between CBS chairman Les Moonves and MTV Networks chief executive officer Tom Freston, and the controversy of the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show were also seen as factors. After the departure of Mel Karmazin in 2004, Redstone, who served as chairman and CEO, decided to split the offices of president and chief operating officer between Moonves and Freston. Redstone was set to retire in the near future, and a split would be a creative solution to the matter of replacing him.[44]

Logo of the spun-off Viacom (2005–2019), introduced on December 31, 2005

The existing Viacom would become the second CBS Corporation as it was headed by Moonves and kept CBS, Simon & Schuster,[45] and Paramount Network Television (now known as CBS Studios), among other assets; while MTV Networks, BET Networks, and Paramount Pictures would spin-off to a sister company headed by Freston under the Viacom name. The split was approved by Viacom's board on June 14, 2005,[46] and took effect on December 31.[4] The second iterations of CBS Corporation and Viacom began trading on January 3, 2006.[47]

Logo of ViacomCBS (2019–2022), introduced on December 4, 2019

On August 13, 2019, CBS and Viacom officially announced their re-merger deal; the combined company would be called ViacomCBS, with Bob Bakish as president and CEO and Shari Redstone as the chairwoman of the new company.[48][49][50] The deal was closed on December 4.[51]

Logo of Paramount Global, introduced on February 16, 2022

Despite ViacomCBS renaming itself to Paramount Global on February 16, 2022,[52] several Paramount assets retain the Viacom name, such as Viacom International and Viacom18 (the latter of which Paramount holds a minority stake in).

Former Viacom-owned stations[edit]

Stations are arranged alphabetically by state and community of license.

Radio stations[edit]

Notes:

  • Two boldface asterisks appearing following a station's call letters (**) indicate a station that was purchased from Sonderling Broadcasting in 1980, which initiated Viacom's entry into radio station ownership (WAST television in Albany was also purchased through the Sonderling deal);
  • This list does not include stations owned by CBS Radio and its predecessors, Westinghouse Broadcasting and Infinity Broadcasting which were acquired by Viacom through its merger with CBS in 2000.
AM Stations FM Stations
City of license/Market Station Years owned Current status
Los Angeles, CA KJOI/KXEZ/KYSR 98.7 1990–1997 owned by iHeartMedia
KQLZ/KXEZ/KIBB 100.3 1993–1997 KKLQ, owned by Educational Media Foundation
San Francisco, CA KDIA 1310 ** 1980–1993 KMKY, owned by Akai Broadcasting Corporation
KDBK/KSRY-FM–98.9 1990–1994 KSOL, owned by Univision Radio
KDBQ/KYLZ/KSRI 99.1 1990–1994 KSQL, owned by Univision Radio
Denver, CO KHOW 630 1990–1993 owned by iHeartMedia
KHOW-FM/KSYY 95.7 1990–1993 KDHT, owned by iHeartMedia
Washington, DCArlington, VA WMZQ/WZHF 1390 1984–1997 owned by Multicultural Broadcasting
WCPT 730 1993–1997 WTNT, owned by Metro Radio
WMZQ-FM 98.7 ** 1980–1997 owned by iHeartMedia
WCXR-FM 105.9 1993–1997 WMAL-FM, owned by Cumulus Media
Chicago, IL WLAK/WLIT-FM 93.9 1982–1997 owned by iHeartMedia
Detroit, MI WLTI/WDRQ 93.1 1988–1997 WUFL, owned by Family Life Radio
New York City, NY WWRL 1600 ** 1980–1982 owned by iHeartMedia
WKHK/WLTW 106.7 ** 1980–1997 owned by iHeartMedia
WAXQ 104.3 1996–1997 owned by iHeartMedia
Memphis, TN WDIA 1070 ** 1980–1983 owned by iHeartMedia
WRVR 680 1985–1988 WMFS, owned by Audacy, Inc.
WRVR-FM 104.5 1981–1988 owned by Audacy, Inc.
Houston, TX KIKK 650 ** 1980–1993 owned by Audacy, Inc.
KIKK-FM 95.7 ** 1980–1993 KKHH, owned by Audacy, Inc.
SeattleTacoma, WA KBSG 1210 1989–1996 KMIA, owned by Bustos Media Holdings, LLC
KBSG-FM 97.3 1987–1996 KIRO-FM, owned by Bonneville International
KNDD 107.7 1993–1996 owned by Audacy, Inc.

Television stations[edit]

This list does not include other stations owned by Paramount Stations Group which were acquired by Viacom through its acquisition of Paramount Pictures in 1994, nor any other station purchased by Viacom/Paramount following the Paramount acquisition and prior to its merger with CBS in 2000.
City of license / market Station Channel Years owned Current status
New BritainHartfordNew Haven, CT WVIT 30 1978–1997 NBC owned-and-operated (O&O)
WTXX 1 20 1993–1997 The CW affiliate WCCT, owned by Tegna Inc.
Shreveport, LATexarkana, TX KSLA-TV 12 1983–1995 CBS affiliate owned by Gray Television
St. Louis, MO KMOV 4 1986–1997 CBS affiliate owned by Gray Television
AlbanySchenectadyTroy, NY WAST/WNYT 13 1980–1996 NBC affiliate owned by Hubbard Broadcasting
Rochester, NY WHEC-TV 10 1983–1996 NBC affiliate owned by Hubbard Broadcasting
  • 1 WTXX was owned by Counterpoint Communications, but Viacom operated the station through a part-time local marketing agreement.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The pronunciation /ˈvəkɒm/ VEE-ə-kom was used by inaugural chairman Ralph Baruch.[1] The pronunciation /ˈv.əkɒm/ VY-ə-kom was favored by Sumner Redstone and included in its audible identification marks following its purchase by National Amusements in 1987.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Communicators (video). C-SPAN. November 2, 2007.
  2. ^ Hagey, Keach (2018). The King of Content: Sumner Redstone's Battle for Viacom, CBS, and Everlasting Control of His Media Empire. New York: HarperBusiness. p. 131. ISBN 9780062654090. In the beginning, Sumner's Viacom—which he had renamed VIE-uh-com during the first board meeting, in a nod to his fighting spirit […]
  3. ^ a b "Viacom Inc. acquires Viacom International Inc". Los Angeles Times. June 10, 1987. Retrieved June 15, 2023.
  4. ^ a b Wilkerson, David B. (October 18, 2005). "Viacom moves up split date". MarketWatch. Archived from the original on August 10, 2022. Retrieved May 24, 2023.
  5. ^ "Broadcasting Magazine, January 14, 1952 (page 94)" (PDF).
  6. ^ "Broadcasting Magazine, March 17, 1952 (page 88)" (PDF).
  7. ^ "Broadcasting Magazine, June 23, 1952 (page 80)" (PDF).
  8. ^ "Broadcasting Magazine, September 22, 1958 (pages 31-33)" (PDF).
  9. ^ "Broadcasting Magazine, October 13, 1958 (page 49)" (PDF).
  10. ^ "Name change at CBS" (PDF). December 4, 1967.
  11. ^ "Broadcasting Magazine, January 29, 1968 (page 8)" (PDF).
  12. ^ "Broadcasting Magazine, July 6, 1970 (page 19)" (PDF).
  13. ^ CBS transfers CATV to new public firm (page 50) at Broadcasting History
  14. ^ Viacom goes on big board at Broadcasting History
  15. ^ NYSE now trading Viacom shares at Broadcasting History
  16. ^ CBS Enterprises will sell time for Yankees at Broadcasting History
  17. ^ a b "History of Viacom Inc.". International Directory of Company Histories. St. James Press. 2005. Retrieved August 16, 2018 – via FundingUniverse.
  18. ^ Sudden halt to Viacom spin-off at Broadcasting History
  19. ^ "Viacom heats up" (PDF). Broadcasting. July 17, 1972. p. 46. Retrieved October 28, 2023.
  20. ^ "Viacom acquires rights to package of features" (PDF). Broadcasting. August 18, 1972. p. 44. Retrieved October 28, 2023.
  21. ^ "Viacom sets up group for prime-time shows" (PDF). Broadcasting Magazine. February 21, 1977. p. 47. Retrieved November 2, 2023.
  22. ^ "Viacom gets into station ownership" (PDF). Broadcasting. June 20, 1977. p. 28. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  23. ^ "Viacom, Sonderling propose marriage." Broadcasting, March 20, 1978, pp. 33-34. Accessed January 8, 2019. [1][2]
  24. ^ "In brief" (PDF). Broadcasting. January 17, 1983. p. 144. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  25. ^ "Changing hands–Proposed" (PDF). Broadcasting. January 24, 1983. p. 74. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  26. ^ "Changing hands–Proposed" (PDF). Broadcasting. July 25, 1983. p. 86. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  27. ^ "In brief" (PDF). Broadcasting. December 9, 1985. p. 120. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  28. ^ "Call letters–Grants–Existing TV's" (PDF). Broadcasting. June 30, 1986. p. 64. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  29. ^ "Cosby in syndication: cash plus barter" (PDF). Broadcasting. October 20, 1986. p. 29. Retrieved January 6, 2022.
  30. ^ Fabrikant, Geraldine (September 17, 1986). "VIACOM CHIEF LEADS GROUP'S BUYOUT BID (Published 1986)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 23, 2021. In November 1985, Viacom acquired MTV for $326 million in cash and warrants. One-third of MTV was publicly owned; the rest was owned by Warner Communications and the American Express Company. At the same time, Viacom bought the 50 percent of Showtime, the pay television service, that it did not already own for $184 million.
  31. ^ "Viacom Establishes Enterprise Division". Variety. February 11, 1987. pp. 49, 70.
  32. ^ "It's showtime for Viacom" (PDF). Broadcasting. July 24, 1989. p. 70. Retrieved November 2, 2023.
  33. ^ "75 Power Players: The Outsiders". Next Generation. No. 11. Imagine Media. November 1995. p. 61. Viacom completed acquisition of Paramount Communications in July 1994, creating one of the world's largest entertainment companies.
  34. ^ Lender, Jon (June 11, 1993). "WVIT Leases Time on WTXX as WTIC Protests". Hartford Courant. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  35. ^ "$35.9-billion merger links TV, radio, ad, film outlets". Detroit Free Press. Associated Press. September 8, 1999. pp. 1F–2F. Archived from the original on October 27, 2023. Retrieved October 27, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  36. ^ Sims, David (August 19, 2019). "Why Viacom and CBS Had to Merge to Survive". The Atlantic. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  37. ^ "CBS And Viacom Complete Merger". CBS News. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  38. ^ Smyntek, John (September 8, 1999). "Viacom to buy CBS in record media deal: It might have impact on 2 stations in metro area". Detroit Free Press. pp. 1F–2F. Archived from the original on October 27, 2023. Retrieved October 26, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  39. ^ Smyntek, John (September 15, 1999). "Viacom can have 2 area stations". Detroit Free Press. p. 1E. Archived from the original on January 29, 2022. Retrieved January 23, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  40. ^ "Viacom Completes BET Acquisition". Los Angeles Times. Reuters. January 24, 2001. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  41. ^ Taylor, Chuck (December 29, 1994). "Viacom Expected To Sell Cable Franchises – TCI Group Would Gain 1.1 Million Subscribers". The Seattle Times.
  42. ^ Taylor, Chuck (January 22, 1995). "Cable Execs To Visit Viacom Sites In Seattle Area – Intermedia Partners Optimistic As They Face Regulatory Hurdles, Tax Scrutiny By Congress". The Seattle Times.
  43. ^ Teather, David (November 2, 2005). "Two-speed Viacom growth rates justify split". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  44. ^ Friedman, Wayne (June 15, 2005). "Viacom, CBS Set To Split--Again". MediaPost. Retrieved March 5, 2023.
  45. ^ Lauer, Douglas; Busvine, Klaus (November 25, 2020). "Bertelsmann buys Simon & Schuster for $2.2 billion in U.S. publishing play". Reuters. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  46. ^ Consoli, John (June 14, 2005). "Viacom Board Approves Split". Adweek. Archived from the original on December 12, 2018. Retrieved May 24, 2023.
  47. ^ Alfano, Sean (January 3, 2006). "CBS, Viacom Formally Split". CBS News. Archived from the original on March 10, 2014. Retrieved March 5, 2023.
  48. ^ Gasparino, Charles; Moynihan, Lydia (August 13, 2019). "CBS, Viacom agree to merge, forming a $28B entertainment firm". Fox Business. Retrieved August 13, 2019.
  49. ^ Szalai, George; Bond, Paul; Vlessing, Etan (August 13, 2019). "CBS, Viacom Strike Deal to Recombine". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 15, 2019.
  50. ^ "CBS and Viacom To Combine" (PDF). CBS. August 12, 2019. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 13, 2019.
  51. ^ "Viacom and CBS Corp. are officially back together again". CBS News. December 4, 2019.
  52. ^ Goldsmith, Jill (February 15, 2022). "ViacomCBS To Rebrand As Paramount Global". Deadline. Retrieved April 27, 2023.