Viacom Inc. president and chief operating officer Mel Karmazin expects a
decision possibly this week, if not later this month, on the company's law suit
to have the 35% TV station ownership cap thrown out.
Karmazin, speaking Monday at the UBS Warburg media conference in New York,
said he recently told FCC chairman Michael Powell that the broadcasting industry
needs to able to consolidate further to remain strong in an era where a company
like AOL Time Warner may bid for AT&T Broadband.
Or where one company, EchoStar, can dominate the U.S. direct-to-home
Karmazin said he'll press for further relaxation of both TV and radio
duopoly, charging that in the case of radio, the eight-stations-to-a-market
limit is arbitrary.
The rule limiting a company to owning one of the big-four networks is also
'archaic,' he said.
Karmazin said Viacom 'would have liked Telemundo,' but couldn't justify the
price that General Electric paid.
And he said that the company would keep a sharp eye on TV and radio station
operators that are struggling financially and might become good acquisition
He also reiterated that the company would meet its $5 billion pre-tax
earnings target for 2001 and that growth on that line next year would show a
He also said the company had the 'flexibility' to channel more of the $750
million in annual advertising Viacom spends to its own outlets to help boost
profitability at its distribution units in order to meet projections if need
Viacom's free cash flow in 2001 will climb more than $500 million to between
$2.7 billion and $2.8 billion, Karmazin said.