Viacom is a major entertainment company based in New York City. Their current incarnation, which was spun off in 2006 from what is now CBS, consists of Paramount Pictures, MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and BET, among other properties.The original Viacom started as CBS's "film sales" division in the mid-1950s, founded to sell some of the network's biggest hits into the syndication market. Back then, CBS had a policy of either owning its shows outright or purchasing the distribution rights, making it so that most of CBS's output from 1950 to 1970 ended being syndicated by CBS as well.This changed in 1971, when the FCC adopted the "fin-syn" rule. Fin-syn basically stated that television networks could no longer syndicate their own shows. CBS decided to spin its sales division off. Following this lead, Viacom became one of the busiest syndicators in the USA. Armed with huge hits such as I Love Lucy, The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Hawaii Five-O and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Viacom was doing well for itself by the early 1980s, and was looking to expand.Its first big purchase was MTV Networks note in 1985. Later, Viacom got the distribution rights to The Cosby Show, still a massive hit at the time and a huge potential money maker. The really big purchases came later though after the company fell under the control of theatre magnate Sumner M. Redstone, as Viacom successfully devoured Paramount in 1994, Blockbuster Video and Spelling Entertainment Group note in 1999 and finally its own former parent, CBS, in 2000, though its last major purchase was that of BET in 2001.In 2005, however, it was decided that Viacom should be split in two. The rationale given at the time was that MTV, Nickelodeon and Paramount were "hot" and the rest of CBS was more "cool", as far as growth was concerned. Viacom spun off MTV Networks and Paramount as a "new" Viacom that took the name, and then the old Viacom renamed itself CBS Corporation. (Paramount Television and its library was kept by CBS, separating it from the movie studio. It was soon merged with CBS' in-house studio to form CBS Paramount Television. The studio is now named CBS Studios.) However, many people actually believed that the real reason for the split was a result of declining revenues caused by bad publicity stemming from Janet Jackson's Wardrobe Malfunction during the half-time show for Super Bowl XXXVIII (which was produced by MTV, whom the NFL has banned from ever producing another half-time show; the de-merger conveniently separated MTV from CBS), and a report on 60 Minutes spinoff show 60 Minutes II questioning George W. Bush's service in the National Guard, which later turned out to be forged. The separation was also a Solomon-esque resolution to an intra-company "bake-off" between co-COOs Les Moonves and Tom Freston to replace Sumner Redstone, the majority owner of the company, as CEO. Moonves is still the CEO of CBS Corporation, while post-separation Viacom CEO Freston was fired several years afterward and replaced with Philippe Dauman, a Viacom director and close friend of Redstone.It's infamous among many YouTube users for removing videosnote . Before that, it was notorious for attacking Star Trek fan sites.Besides being a syndicator, Viacom has also produced several shows by itself:
- Ed (bizarrely under the byline "A Paramount Company"; this was because of Viacom's production arm having been put under Paramount TV at that point)
- The Master
- The Perry Mason reunion movies, starting with "Perry Mason Returns".
- Various other reunion vehicles based on old CBS shows, such as "Return to Mayberry".
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch
- Split/Second (1986-87 revival; w/ Hatos-Hall and several Canadian TV stations)