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Viacom’s Acting Chief Says ‘No’ to Vice Rumors

Variety logo Variety 12/5/2016 Brian Steinberg
© Provided by Variety

Viacom’s acting CEO made several things clear Monday afternoon: He wants the company to focus on turning MTV around. He wants to see more momentum at Comedy Central. And he has no interest in buying a stake in Vice Media.

“Unequivocally I have no interest in buying a stake in Vice, and we are not going to do it,” said Bob Bakish, who was recently placed in charge of Viacom after serving several years as head of its international operations. His statement would seem to squelch a recent report in The New York Post suggesting Viacom was interested in investing in the growing media company that has made a successful market among younger news consumers. The report drew some notice because Viacom had owned part of Vice under previous management.

Bakish indicated two of Viacom’s big U.S. priorities were boosting MTV’s ratings and gaining new traction for Comedy Central. He predicted that investors might see better performance at MTV by late March of next year. And he praised “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah’s recent performance, suggesting the late-night comedian was growing viewership in the aftermath of the recent U.S. election.

Like his counterpart at CBS, Leslie Moonves, Bakish said Viacom and CBS were studying the prospect of merging with a methodical eye, but noted that “we need to ensure Viacom is as strong as it can be, and that’s what I’m working on.”

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