Reports: CBS In Talks To End Shareholder Lawsuit With Viacom Merger On Hold, Moonves Negotiating Exit

At the beginning of 2018, it looked like CBS and Viacom were headed for a re-merger, which would bring all of Star Trek back under one corporate umbrella again. However, by March talks had broken down and the whole thing moved to the courts with a lawsuit filed by the CBS board, led by chairman and CEO Les Moonves, to take power away from controlling shareholder Shari Redstone, who had been pushing for the deal.

Things got even more complicated in August when the New Yorker reported on accusations of sexual harassment by Moonves, which Moonves denied, leading to an internal investigation.

Settlement would delay talks of Viacom/CBS remerger

With a hearing for the suit between CBS and Shari Redstone’s National Amusements looming in early October, it appears the parties are looking to settle things out of court. The business press and trades are now all reporting that negotiations are underway. The Wall Street Journal reports, “A framework for the settlement would include CBS dropping its attempt to strip National Amusements of its voting control of the company by issuing shares as a dividend. In return, National Amusements would refrain from pushing for a merger of CBS and Viacom Inc. for an undisclosed period.”

Reuters sources get more specific, saying there would be “a two-year standstill” for any discussions of a merger. Viacom spun off CBS back in 2006 with the Redstone family maintaining controlling shares in both corporations. In recent years Shari Redstone has been pushing to bring the corporations back together with the 2018 talks being the second set of formal negotiations that have broken down.

Moonves negotiating exit

A major opponent to the CBS/Viacom re-merger has been CBS CEO and chairman Les Moonves, however, it also appears his days leading CBS are coming to an end. Again, multiple major outlets are reporting that Moonves is currently negotiating his departure from CBS, which he has run for two decades. Reports agree that discussions are to the point of negotiating Moonves’ payout, which according to the New York Times will “be far less than $180 million, the amount specified in his employment agreement should he leave the CBS Corporation.”

Deadline is reporting that the “post-Les Moonves CBS” has started to “take shape as exit talks advance.” All the reporting agrees that the deal being struck has current CBS COO Joseph Ianniello stepping in as interim CEO with Deadline reporting that an outside search for a permanent replacement for Moonves would commence.

Les Moonves at Star Trek: Discovery premiere in September 2017

Star Trek impacted by these corporate moves

Any new CEO for CBS could result in new strategies, possibly including areas that could impact Star Trek. The decision for CBS to not participate with Hulu and to launch their own streaming service was made by Moonves. Moonves was also involved in decisions related to using Star Trek to spearhead CBS All Access, including bringing on Alex Kurtzman and Bryan Fuller to develop Star Trek: Discovery. Kurtzman is now in charge of expanding the Star Trek universe on TV for CBS, with All Access planning to go all in on Trek with multiple Trek shows set to launch on the service.

Alex Kurtzman with Patrick Stewart announcing his next Star Trek series for CBS All Access in August 2018

The hold on the merger talks between Viacom and CBS also put hopes of bringing Trek back under one roof on hold as well. One of the side effects of the 2006 corporate split was the division of Star Trek, with CBS retaining ownership of the brand and television franchise and Viacom’s Paramount Pictures owning the film library, and rights to make more feature films.

A re-merger would bring that all back together which at a bare minimum could create possible synergies. And with CBS’ expanded plans for the franchise on TV and Paramount planning multiple Star Trek films, there is potential for even more synchronicity, including the possibility of a single “Star Trek Cinematic Universe,” like the Marvel films and TV shows.  If merger talks resume in 2020 this reunification of Star Trek may still take place, but it will be too late for much of what is currently being mapped out by CBS and Paramount for the future of the franchise.

Paramount Pictures will continue on its own with Star Trek movies, for now

This is a developing story with some reports saying a deal could be announced as soon as Friday. We will be providing updates as it becomes available.

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Brainulo

Damn.

Just Another Salt Vampire

Until the Redstones no longer have control of CBS and Paramount this is going to be a mess. Hopefully Star Trek will not be negatively affected, although from the budget mess reported for the new Star Trek movie with Pine and Hemsworth it sounds like it already is.

More Troubles More Dribbles

Star Trek is bigger than any movie, t.v., or book franchise. That’s why it should have it’s own network.
With 13 movies, 1000+ episodes, 900+ novels, and over 50 years of entertainment expertise there is more than enough material to satisfy a 16 hr a day network. Heck, with another 3 series in development the Star Trek Network could run 24/7 7 days a week without repeating anything. It could offer new sci-fi programs to give viewers some additional variety.
How many here would pay 10 bucks a month to get the Star Trek Network (STN)?

Tiger2

Yeah that’s actually a great point. Most people don’t seem to love AA here but I’m GUESSING if they came out with a Star Trek only streaming site with all the shows, films, documentaries, TV specials, etc while still making shows like Discovery and the upcoming TNG show most people would JUMP at paying that every month lol.

I certainly would! Our own Star Trek channel. Now it kind of sucks AA is around because if the studios were merged like the old days that was something they could’ve done from the beginning. D.C. is doing that now with old shows and movies but also making new shows for the site.

Why would I pay ten bucks for an all-Trek network when I can pay six bucks for All Access, which (I assume) has all of Trek?

DIGINON

Not to break your bubble, but if you ran Trek for 16 hours a day, you would run through all of the existing material in less than two months (750 hr/16hr). Even with another 3 series you would still need to start repeating yourself after less than 2 months. If you did 24/7 the existing Trek material would last 1 month.

Tiger2

You’re not wrong but this is the direction we’re also headed in now. Stargate just launched its OWN streaming service just for that franchise and it’s literally less than half the content of what Star Trek would have.

https://www.theverge.com/2017/9/21/16338798/stargate-command-sg1-atlantis-universe-dedicated-streaming-service-mgm

D.C. is launching it’s own streaming service this month with new shows and while there is tons of content in the D.C. world majority of what you will find on that site is older stuff like the old shows from the 60s through the 90s, Tim Burton Batman movies and tons of cartoons, etc. But the more recent stuff like Arrowverse, The Dark Knight movies, DCEU, etc won’t be anywhere near it for now.

But yes this is the direction we are headed in now. It’s not just studio content like Hulu or AA it’s becoming about niche marketing to specific fanbases. Now these two may fail but if they don’t I can see this blowing up in an interesting way where studios will have sub sites on top of their main ones.

As far as Star Trek, IF everything was under one roof again, they could go BIG with it. Not just the shows and films, but add video games to it, selected comics, archives for Star Trek communicator magazines, novels, etc. It doesn’t just HAVE to be movies and TV shows, but a multi-media platform.

That’s where all of this is headed, a one stop shop for everything under one property.

Danpaine

Yeah, there’s not enough material for an independent Trek channel, and even if there was, I highly doubt enough people would subscribe to it to make it profitable. As a lifelong fan, would I pay for it? Probably not, since I already own so much of it on disc.

Eric Cheung

I’ve thought about a Star Trek network before, too. But I think your numbers are a bit off. Including the movies and the current season of Star Trek: Discovery, there are 744 stories told on the small and large screens. That translates to around 750 hours (TAS would be 11 hours and the movies would be 26 hours, though the movies would add additional commercials, so round it to 30), but there are countless documentaries. It would depend on who owns those to determine whether they could be shown on the same Star Trek network. If it’s just the shows and movies, that would be 31 days worth of programming. But more likely, it would be something like Sunday through Saturday ENT 1-3PM, VOY 3-5PM (ENT/VOY seem like they’d be good for after school), TOS 5-7PM, TNG 7-9PM (TNG is probably the most popular with the general public, or was historically the biggest hit of all the shows, so it gets a slot many stations carried it for weekday syndication, plus a prime time slot), DS9 9-11PM (DS9 has seen a resurgence in popularity, but is also a bit more adult, so it’s prime time, but on after family hour), original non-fiction series 11PM-1AM (perhaps a late-night talkshow or something like After Trek), past Trek documentaries 1-9AM, educational science shows 9AM-1PM. Weekend programming would have slight exceptions, Saturdays 9-11AM: TAS, Sundays: 9PM DSC, other new Trek narrative shows (in the DS9 slot from the rest of the week).

Cindy Real

This would help to solidify Star Trek a a cult phenomenon, and make it lose relevance in the popular culture. As it stands now, I don’t know a single non-Trekkie who has the slightest interest in Discovery.

Tiger2

You have a point Cindy but let’s be honest, AA is kind of already doing that now. That is the one BIG problem I see with putting all these new Star Trek shows behind pay walls because the only people who will most likely sample them are people who are already fans.

I laughed at one guy here who kept suggesting Discovery is attracting ‘new’ fans. I mean, how???? Most OLD fans don’t even want to pay for AA to watch the show lol. Of course I’m sure there are some new people to Trek who is signed up for AA to check it out but my guess is those people are in a very vast minority.

And being on TV is WHAT made Star Trek so popular, because TOS ran in syndication. It was always on so people just ran into it. TNG got even more popular because it ran new episodes on local stations and they could run it where they thought it would be for optimum viewing and not just a national time slot like a network does. People found that show in droves who never seen Star Trek before or fans would tell their friends to try it who could just turn it on.

But now DIS will just have a harder time because its behind a paywall site no one really wants. UNTIL AA gets more popular in general there isn’t going to be a lot of new fans to these shows unfortunately.

Yes putting the show on a less-established service makes it more difficult to attract new fans to Trek. AA’s sub #’s are still very low, which is probably one of the reasons why the Picard series was commissioned – they need a high-profile way to get the word out about AA and their Trek shows.

Tiger2

But I have made this clear many times, it’s not Discovery’s fault, it’s AA’s fault. The new Picard show will easily bring in tons more subs than DIS will but it’s not going to be any real new fans. It will be the same old fans whose been watching Trek for years but just wasn’t interested in Discovery. It will diversify Trek which is a GREAT thing, but it won’t in terms of the audience.

But this is the problem and why AA REALLY has its work cut out for it. Because it’s not an issue of bringing in more Trek fans if they put on more shows, it’s an issue of bringing in non-Trek fans who will just start watching stuff like DIS and the Picard show on their own. Right now I don’t see that happening anytime soon because AA in general is just not very diversified in its overall content.

If it was on Netflix like it is outside of America, that’s different because Netflix not only has a bigger audience but a well rounded one. AA is still early but until it’s non Trek shows create buzz it’s going to just be a Trek site for old fans anyway. I agree with you obviously and people who aren’t Trek fans now don’t care about Discovery but that’s because it’s on a platform they don’t view as being something they want on its own.

albatrosity

You mean like something called CBSAA? Cuz it’s basically the Trek streaming service now. Which is like, awesome. But agree with Tiger that I really don’t know of too many non-fans who have interest in Discovery. It’d be nice to get at least one Trek show of the upcoming bunch on regular TV.

Denny C

With Moonves out of the way the merger between CBS and Viacom is all but assured – – and that’s not a bad thing.

The split was a mistake. They misread where the industry was going and it left CBS and Viacom in a vulnerable position as the media landscape shifted. There was a synergy between the television and film divisions before the split that is sorely needed now.

And, yes, Star Trek is important but it’s only a small part of the CBS and Viacom portfolios.

What ultimately survives the merger is the bigger question as they assess what’s working and what’s not in both companies.

Curious Cadet

“and Viacom’s Paramount Pictures owning the film library and rights to make more feature films.”

Articles around the time of ST09’s announcement spelled out pretty clearly that CBS offered an ultimatum to Gail Berman to either produce another Star Trek film or lose the rights. Just to be clear then, Paramount doesn’t appear to own the film rights, only the catalogue of films they’ve produced. The rights to produce new films seemingly lie with CBS, but currently conditionally granted to Paramount, likely as part of the terms of the original split.

Kieran MacDuff

I watched a YouTube vid recently which said Paramount are time bound to producing a film. If there’s not a new one within a specific time period then the rights revert to CBS. I wonder to the veracity of that though, but would make sense behind the teeing up of films in advance like Trek 4 and Tarantino’s

Curious Cadet

@Kieran MacDuff — right. That’s how I understood it. So CBS owns the rights, but Paramount has a conditional license to produce the films. It wouldn’t make sense for the rights to be owned by someone other than the IP holder. That said, yeah — Paramount is almost certainly on a ticking clock and needs to keep the pot simmering. Fortunately, with the Moonves scandal and the Trek series focus, CBS is not likely interested in pushing the issue this time around …

AJinMoscow

Why can’t Paramount sign a contract with CBS for mutual use of backstory from each others’ Star Treks? So, if “Discovery” the show wants to reference events where the USS Franklin or the USS Kelvin, with which they share their universe, participated, it’s no-go due to the separate ownership of each of the formats. Not that it’s worth the money, mind you. There’s quite enough story out there without using a storyline like that. It just seems like a silly corporate legal thing that everyone is avoiding like the plague. Hell, Spiderman from Sony is in Disney’s Avengers. Can’t be harder to accomplish than that deal was. The stakes are quite a bit lower.

Heyberto

Until there’s a real incentive, why would they do that? It wasn’t until Marvel became a financial behemoth and Sony screwed up Spidey that that scenario. For the creatives to have unilateral creative control, the Kelvinverse would have to go down in flames, and the CBSAA properties would have to take off. The reality of that though, if the Kelvinverse tanks completely, neither party is going to feel comfortable launching a film property. Personally, I don’t want that to happen. A reunification is probably the best we can hope for here.

Tiger2

But who says they can’t now???

For all we know they can do exactly that. The movies for example use back story and references from ALL the shows. STID was partly based off of Space Seed. Section 31 came from DS9. Enterprise has been referenced in every Kelvin film and they used the MACOs story line in Beyond’s back story. They have made references from Lt. Paris to Cardassia, all from the shows. They used Prime Spock to set up their own universe, so they ALREADY are using back story from the shows.

And remember it’s Paramount who is just licensing, not the other way around. I don’t see how CBS which owns the franchise and the prime universe couldn’t reference something that happens IN their universe. A. Who would even make such a deal and B. If CBS couldn’t use the back story from the films with events that happens in their own freaking universe then all it would mean is that the Kelvin films AREN’T canon after all. And I don’t think that’s what Paramount wants, but that’s exactly what it would mean basically.

Think about it, if the Picard show comes and we see a Romulus still standing like nothing happened, then that means it never happened, i.e. the Kelvin movies isn’t canon to the main franchise anymore. CBS owns the Prime universe, everything that happens in it is canon.So the Kelvin movies would be completely irrelevant after that and I’m not sure that’s what Paramount wants.

Heyberto

I don’t see how any current plans would inhibit storytelling at all. They are pretty separate and wouldn’t intermingle.. it just means that the marketing effort would be more integrated. I mean.. a crossover through the mycelial network could happen with the Kelvin Enterprise crew and the Prime Discovery crew, but it’s hard to see why that’d be necessary at all other than cross promotional marketing. It would mean the Kelvinverse could become fodder for the TV shows, and that’d be cool.

HN4

Prime Universe, Kelvin universe is all just silly fan talk. CBS owns Star Trek, all of it. Discovery has tons of imagery that comes straight from the current movies. Why people think that Paramount Studios owns the Kelvin universe is beyond me.

albatrosity

That would be a pretty legit movie, a Disco-KT crossover. Then throw in another Nexus plot [they said it comes thru the area every so often] with the aging Next Gen crew and then bring back Shatner and boooooooooom the Trek universe implodes

Living Raktajino

A “Star Trek Cinematic Universe”? So… being a combination of Star Trek and… Star Trek?!

ARH

Yes. Star Trek (Kelvin timeline – bad) and Star Trek (Prime timeline – good). Let’s fervently hope that does not come to pass.

albatrosity

Trek was the original cinematic universe! Kinda

Danpaine

Well it appears there’ll be “Les” of him around….sorry. I had to.

Cindy Real

I have not read the entire Ronan Farrow piece, but the accusations made by lleana Douglas are highly credible. The Les we see of him, the better.

Trellium G

I’m not really thrilled about any possible re-merger between Viacom and CBS as far as Star Trek is concerned. Paramount seems to have lost its way and part of me wishes it would get sold off to another media giant.

albatrosity

Good, get these creeps out of Hollywood! And are you serious, 180 million freakin dollars for this predator? This is everything wrong with our society — we think just because a CEO can make 180 million dollars means they should. Under no circumstances has that man done anything that’s worth 180 million dollars. Give the money to the workers. A cashout like that is just bonkers. Thank god he isn’t getting it.

Gary 8.5

Deadline just reported the 100 million dollar payout is now off the table.

They just reported on CNN that he has officially resigned.