As anticipated last week, the legal battle for control of CBS following a push to re-merge the corporation with Viacom has come to an end. Today CBS announced a settlement with controlling shareholder Shari Redstone’s National Amusements and the resignation of CEO Leslie Moonves.
Merger can wait, keeping Star Trek split
Shari Redstone pushed for CBS to re-merge with Viacom earlier this year, and in March, CBS took the unusual step of attempting to dilute Redstone’s control to prevent the merger, resulting in a lawsuit that was set to go to court in a few weeks. Today the parties have announced a settlement in which Redstone’s National Amusements would retain its control, but will not attempt another merger between CBS and Viacom for at least two years.
When CBS split off from Viacom in 2005, one of the side effects was the division of the Star Trek franchise. CBS retained ownership of the brand as a whole, including the vast library of TV shows, with Viacom’s Paramount retaining ownership of the film library and holding the rights to make new feature films. Re-merging the corporations would’ve brought the possibilities of additional synergies between Star Trek on television and film. Right now, both CBS and Paramount are developing multiple Star Trek projects, with no coordination between the parties.
CBS for sale?
In a nod towards the possibility of CBS seeking other merger possibilities besides Viacom, the settlement statement notes that National Amusements has reaffirmed that it will “give good faith consideration” to any potential mergers or acquisitions.
CBS remains one of the smaller players in the world of mega-mergers in the media industry and is often cited as a potential target for acquisition. Part of today’s settlement involves new members being added to the CBS board and Variety notes the new additions to the board specialize in mergers and new media.
Perhaps the biggest opponent to the Viacom/CBS re-merger has been CBS CEO Leslie Moonves. However, today’s announcement includes news of his resignation amidst new accusations of sexual harassment and even assault, reported over the weekend by the New Yorker. It was also announced that CBS and Moonves would immediately donate $20 million to “one or more organizations that support the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace.” Any possible severance benefits for Moonves are being held pending the investigation into the allegations.
Will next CEO share the same vision for All Access and Star Trek?
Les Moonves has had a major impact on the Star Trek franchise in his decades as a senior executive with both Viacom and CBS. He was reportedly instrumental in pushing for the cancellation of Star Trek: Enterprise in 2005, ending an era of 18 years of new Star Trek on television. He was also a major proponent of bringing Star Trek back in 2017, with Star Trek: Discovery spearheading CBS All Access, a streaming service he launched in 2014. The CEO also tapped Alex Kurtzman to develop Discovery as well as additional Trek series for All Access.
Current CBS COO Joseph Ianniello, who has also touted Star Trek’s ability to bring subscribers to All Access, has been named president and the acting CEO while the CBS board begins a search for a successor to Moonves.
Any new change in leadership could result in changes to CBS’s streaming strategy, which could also impact the future of the Star Trek TV franchise, as it is now intertwined with the future of CBS All Access.
Keep up with all the corporate news that can impact Star Trek here at TrekMovie.com.