Viacom Inc. chairman Sumner Redstone continued to refute reports that he and
president and chief operating officer Mel Karmazin were on the outs, telling
analysts on an earnings call that there is no dissension in the top echelon of
'For those of you who don't read the newspapers, that means that Mel and I,
top management is totally in synch,' Redstone said. 'We are totally,
unequivocally committed to making sure that Viacom's long-term future is strong
and bright. In short, the mood here is great, Mel and I are getting along great
and you should feel great about your investment in Viacom.'
Earlier this month, Viacom stock was rocked by reports that Redstone would
not renew Karmazin's contract when it expires at the end of next year. Both
Redstone and Karmazin have denied that there is a rift between the two.
Karmazin refrained from addressing the issue on the call, although he did
praise Redstone for the assets he assembled in creating Viacom.
Cable networks continued to be Viacom's top performers, with revenue at the
networks up 4 percent and cash flow up 19 percent.
On the whole, Viacom revenue was flat at $23 billion and cash flow was up 2
percent to $5 billion.
Advertising sales were down about 2 percent for the year, compared with 5
percent to 7 percent declines at its peers, Karmazin said. He added that the ad
market is beginning to show 'promising signs.'
Pricing for cable and broadcast in the first quarter is either at upfront
levels or slightly above, Karmazin said.