Warner Bros, Paramount Global in merger talks

A merger of the two large media companies would likely face intense scrutiny. — Reuters

LOS ANGELES: Warner Bros Discovery Inc has held talks on a possible merger with Paramount Global, potentially combining two of the biggest media companies in the world, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The talks are preliminary and may not lead to an agreement, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are at such an early stage.

David Zaslav, chief executive officer of Warner Bros Discovery Inc, met with Bob Bakish, his counterpart at Paramount Global, in New York to discuss a possible deal, Axios reported earlier.

He has also spoken with Paramount chair Shari Redstone, whose family company owns a controlling stake in Paramount, the owner of CBS and other television properties.

A combination of the companies would unite famous Hollywood properties, including the Paramount and Warner Bros film and TV studios, and put a number of pay-TV and broadcast stations, such as HBO and CBS, under a single roof.

A merger of the two large media companies would likely face intense scrutiny by federal regulators who have challenged numerous combinations under the Joe Biden administration.

According to Axios, Warner Bros executives said they could complete such a merger because their company didn’t own a broadcast network like Paramount’s CBS.

Both companies have struggled as consumers have cancelled cable-TV subscriptions in favour of a new generation of streaming services.

The streaming businesses are expensive to run, and haven’t made up for shrinking profits at traditional networks. Programming costs, especially for sports, have been escalating.

People familiar with Paramount’s thinking said the board has been more open to strategic alternatives, such as an alliance with another media giant. — Bloomberg

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