Mel Karmazin To Leave Viacom?

By Antony
January 25, 2003 - 12:36 PM

The possible departure of Mel Karmazin, president and COO of Viacom (the company that owns Paramount and UPN) has caused concern for investors, with Viacom shares falling over 5%.

According to a Retuters report by Reshma Kapadia, Karmazin's contract is up at the end of the year. Negotiations are taking place between Karmazin and the Viacom board about his contract. However, the report indicates that chief executive and chairman Sumner Redstone, whom Karmazin has had a "tumultuous relationship" with, wants take more control — a point that may lead to difficult negotiations.

"I do have a major concern," Marvin Roffman, president of money managers Roffman Miller Associates and a Viacom shareholder, told Reuters. "This is a very critical point right now and all shareholders and Wall Street is concerned because they rate Mel one of the best executives in the media world."

The stablity of Viacom is important for all of its companies. It entered the world of Star Trek back when it bought Paramount Pictures in 1993. Paramount Pictures has produced all the recent Star Trek series and movies. Viacom also owns UPN, which launched both Voyager and Enterprise. Its other properties include CBS, Simon & Schuster and video rental chain Blockbuster.

With uncertainty over Karmazin's future with the Viacom, the company is taking steps to ensure that CBS president Les Moonves stays. They are trying to extend his contract, even though it doesn't expire until 2004. UPN entertainment president Dawn Tarnofsky-Ornoff also reports to to Moonves, now that the networks have integrated a lot of their operations.

The original Reuters article can be found here.

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