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Succession Planning Case Study

Case Title:

Succession Battles at Viacom

Publication Year : 2004

Authors: Daksha Bhat

Industry: Entertainment


Case Code: SUP0002

Teaching Note: Available

Structured Assignment: Available

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Viacom is the holding company of CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System) networks, Paramount Pictures, MTV (Music Television) and other media ventures and one of the top three media companies in the world in terms of its $27 billion turnover and scope of operations. Viacom's president and COO (Chief Operating Officer) Mel Karmazin, who built Infinity Radio and CBS, before the CBS mega-merger with Viacom, resigned abruptly from his post. The Chairman and CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of Viacom, 80 year old media mogul Sumner Redstone, who controlled 70% of the company's stock took charge of the company, appointed two executives to share Karmazin's responsibility and designated them as likely successors when he stepped down after three years.

Pedagogical Objectives:

  • To discuss the difference in the personalities of Redstone and Karmazin and the disparity of their vision for the company
  • To discuss the dynamics of succession in companies that have one controlling shareholder, and the effect of top management's personal vision and attitudes
  • To discuss the clash between innovation and cost control, between expanding the company and enhancing shareholder value and a power struggle between two powerful and successful self-made personalities.

Keywords : Viacom; Sumner Redstone; Mel Karmazin; CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System); Infinity; Leadership style; Managing in Troubled Times Case Study; Top management succession; Creativity; Advertising; Television; Radio


  • Sumner Redstone
  • Mel Karmazin
  • Viacom under Karmazin
  • A Change of Guard

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