Thursday, February 16, 2006

Family media empire

Family media empire - Technology - International Herald Tribune: "a battle within the family of Sumner Redstone, the billionaire media mogul who controls both the CBS television network and Viacom, which owns cable television networks and the Paramount Pictures movie studio.

Redstone's son, Brent Redstone, has filed a lawsuit to force a breakup of his father's empire, charging that he has not been treated fairly and that his sister is being favored.

While it is not clear that Brent Redstone will have any luck with his suit, the move is an embarrassment to Sumner Redstone, 82, who has signaled that he plans to eventually leave control of the company to his daughter, Shari.

National Amusements, a privately held movie theater company, owns theaters as well as Redstone's 11 percent stakes in both Viacom and CBS, which represent 71 percent of each company's votes.

While Sumner Redstone controls two-thirds of National Amusements, his two children each control a sixth. Brent Redstone, who has had several roles at Viacom over the years but is no longer connected to the company, charges that he has been frozen out of decisions at National Amusements since his father's 2002 divorce from Brent's mother, Phyllis, and subsequent marriage to Paula Fortunato, a former schoolteacher.

Brent Redstone also charged that his father had improperly used company funds to satisfy personal obligations. He said Sumner Redstone had transferred a "multimillion-dollar suite" at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan from National Amusements to his ex-wife, Phyllis, as part of the divorce settlement. A person close to Sumner Redstone said he had paid National Amusements $12 million for the apartment."

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