Variety citing multiple sources close to the situation.
The move has been expected for months, although there may still be obstacles on the road to a reunion for the two sides of the Redstone media empire. Price could still be a sticking point. People close to the matter said CBS views Viacom as having a host of troubled assets including low-profile cable channels that are endangered species in a skinny bundle world. But Viacom believes it is in a much stronger position than it was this time last year, when the sides last made a fitful attempt at merger talks.
The strongest signal of the movement toward a recombination of the companies that were joined from 2000 through 2006 was CBS’ decision on Tuesday to call off its search for a permanent CEO. Joseph Ianniello, who has served as president and acting CEO since September, extended his contract, which had been set to expire in June, through the end of this year.
CBS’ long-term fate has been uncertain since last September, when longtime chairman-CEO Leslie Moonves was fired as sexual assault allegations from the past surfaced through investigative reporting by the New Yorker.
The renewed discussions on a CBS-Viacom merger come after the CBS board has spent the past eight months considering a wide range of options for the company. Redstone has made it clear that she feels CBS and Viacom are best served by formally reintegrating. Redstone’s National Amusements holding company is prevented from proposing a CBS-Viacom merger for another 18 months, per the terms of the 2018 settlement of the litigation. But that doesn’t stop the CBS or Viacom board from initiating such discussions.