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CBS and Viacom reportedly pencilling August merger deal

CBS and Viacom have agreed an August 8 internal deadline to come to a merger agreement, according to CNBC.

The news channel said that both companies had agreed to set the August deadline on the day both are due to report Q2 earnings, citing unnamed sources.

Viacom president and CEO Bob Bakish

While an actual announcement could be made sooner, or potentially later, the pair have agreed in principle that a deal makes sense, according to the report.

According to CNBC, a price has yet to be agreed. The channel reported that an exchange rate for shares in each company would not be agreed until all other elements of a merger agreement are settled.

The combined company is expected to be led by Viacom CEO Bob Bakish, with CBS CEO Joe Ianniello’s role not yet clear, according to CNBC.

The renewed push for a merger, something that was long promoted by Shari Redstone, whose National Amusements vehicle is the controlling shareholder for both companies, but was resisted by former CBS CEO Les Moonves, follows the wave of consolidation in the US studio business that saw Disney acquire Fox’s entertainment assets and AT&T acquire Time Warner.

The combined CBS-Viacom is expected to focus on developing a combined streaming strategy that will line-up against the planned Disney+, WarnerMedia’s forthcoming HBO Max and other OTT TV offerings.

CBS currently operates the CBS All Access service, while Viacom has launched a number of niche offerings and recently acquired OTT TV service Pluto TV, which has a strong presence in the US and has launched in some international markets.

There has been speculation that a combined CBS-Viacom could make further acquisitions, such as acquiring premium offering Starz from Lionsgate.