Redstone: Viacom, CBS will never be sold


NEW YORK -- CBS Corp. and Viacom chairman and controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone reiterated Wednesday that he will never sell Viacom or CBS. Wall Street observers have at times suggested a sale to another entertainment or distribution giant.

"I will never, never sell Viacom or CBS," Redstone said at the CBS Corp. annual shareholder meeting in New York on Wednesday.

At the event, president and CEO Leslie Moonves was also asked about a possible link-up between CNN and CBS. Although the two companies maintain a good relationship, no larger deal is happening "right now," he replied.

Long-running industry chatter about a possible link-up between Time Warner's CNN and CBS News recently flared up again.

TW chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes recently acknowledged that the news network has continued to look at a "structural partnership of some kind" with possible partners every now and then.

"We have long been in discussions with really all candidates," he said. "We don't have anything definitive to tell you right now."

In prepared remarks, Redstone summarized 2009 as a year of "countless successes that will continue well into 2010 and beyond."

Management once again touted reduced expenses and a continuously stabilizing economy that led CBS into a meaningful recovery during the second half of 2009. "The market recognizes our continued strength," Moonves said, highlighting that CBS' stock price has doubled in the past year.

Praise for CBS' "Undercover Boss" and the early momentum of the CBS Films unit were also part of Wednesday's meeting.

Moonves acknowledged that his company's first film release, "Extraordinary Measures," did not do as well as projected.

However, the company's second film, "The Back-Up Plan," is doing "respectably well," he added. It currently stands at $57 million worldwide.

Two more films are expected to be released this year.
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