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Viacom: Big Media Mergers Era Over

October 28, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ Sumner Redstone, who built Viacom Inc. into a media powerhouse through takeovers over the past decade, says the megamerger boom in media and entertainment has run its course.

``The era of great, big acquisitions is over. There isn’t that much that’s still out there,″ the Viacom chairman said Wednesday at a media industry conference.

Since acquiring Viacom in 1987, Redstone has assembled an empire that includes Paramount Pictures, the Blockbuster video store chain and the MTV, Nickelodeon and Showtime cable networks.

Rivals such as Time Warner Inc., Walt Disney Co., Bertelsmann AG and News Corp. have also been aggressive acquirers in recent years and all own massive collections of well-known media properties.

Redstone, who spoke at the conference alongside Time Warner vice chairman Ted Turner, said the media giants are now focused on smoothly running their numerous holdings and shedding debt that has built up during the takeover boom.

``There may be another era of transactional growth ... but at the moment that’s not going to happen,″ Redstone said.

His comments came amid lingering speculation that two more major media deals _ sales of the NBC and CBS networks _ could be on the horizon.

Like other broadcasters, NBC and CBS are losing viewers to cable and they are the only broadcast networks not affiliated with a major Hollywood studio, a crucial link at a time when programming costs are skyrocketing. Viacom was among several companies that reportedly held exploratory merger talks with NBC in the past year.

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