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Viacom Files Separation Papers With SEC

10/05/2005 07:59:00 AM Eastern

It's official.

Viacom Wednesday filed the paperwork with the Securities & Exchange Commission to split itself into two companies, New Viacom and CBS Corp.

The New Viacom will comprise MTV Networks, BET, Paramount Pictures, Paramount Home Entertainment, and Famous Music; CBS Corp. will comprise the CBS TV network, UPN, the CBS TV station group, Infinity Broadcasting, CBS, Paramount and King World production and syndication arms, Showtime, Viacom Outdoor, Paramount theme parks, and Simon & Schuster.

Although separate, the two companies will be commonly controlled--with Sumner Redstone atop both. As such, they have agreed not to acquire assets that would limit the other in terms of media ownership. For example, Viacom would not buy a newspaper in a market if it would mean CBS would have to divest a station there.

They have also agreed not to strike deals with programming distributors that involve the other. That means that CBS can't tie cable retrans deals to powerful Viacom cable nets. Tom Freston will run New Viacom, while Les Moonves will head up CBS Corp.

Viacom has billed the split as a benefit to both companies, so that each can get the proper valuation for their businesses.
It is billing New Viacom as a pure content businesses and CBS Corp. as a mass media business.

Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, plans to work against the split: "We will work to slow down and oppose this transfer given Viacom's anti-public interest position on kids."

That was a reference to the company's decision this week to ask a federal appeals court to throw out the FCC's new rules on digital and analog kids TV programming.

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