Viacom has hired investment bank UBS to explore the sale of Viacom's Famous Music publishing business.
Viacom inherited the top 10 music publisher, founded in 1928, when it bought Paramount. The Famous catalog contains some 125,000 copyrights including music from The Godfather and Titanic as well as TV shows Mission Impossible, the Star Trek franchise, Brady Bunch and Cheers (where everybody knows your name). It also has songs from artists as varied as eminem and Marvin Hamlisch.
Famous also handles licensing and administration of the music catalogs for co-owned MTV, Nickelodeon and BET.
The publishing house has not been a core business for the company, however, and Viacom's entire portfolio has gotten the once over since the arrival in September of Phillipe Dauman and Thomas Dooley to succeed former CEO Tom Freston.
Viacom could still decide to keep the company, but if it does sell, it would seem to be going in the opposite direction of sibling CBS, which recently got deeper into the music business by launching an online record label.
While there are still some arms-length issues between Viacom and CBS, which were split into two separate companies with separate stocks a years ago, but CBS could stil conceiveably buy Famous.