CBS-Viacom merger may force out IR firm

NEW YORK: Last week’s announcement of the dollars 37.3 billion Viacom/CBS mega-merger likely signaled the beginning of the end for Robinson, Lerer & Montgomery’s (RLM) longtime relationship with Viacom.

NEW YORK: Last week’s announcement of the dollars 37.3 billion Viacom/CBS mega-merger likely signaled the beginning of the end for Robinson, Lerer & Montgomery’s (RLM) longtime relationship with Viacom.

NEW YORK: Last week’s announcement of the dollars 37.3 billion

Viacom/CBS mega-merger likely signaled the beginning of the end for

Robinson, Lerer & Montgomery’s (RLM) longtime relationship with

Viacom.



Though RLM has worked closely with Viacom for nearly a decade, the IR

specialist also represents both NBC and America Online. These

affiliations create inescapable conflicts of interest with the CBS

empire, which includes extensive Internet holdings (MarketWatch, CBS

Sports-Line) that rival AOL’s financial and sports offerings.



RLM will continue to work for Viacom until the CBS merger is completed

in the middle of next year. At that point, the agency situation will

come to a head, likely resulting in RLM’s ouster.



Viacom SVP of corporate relations Carl Folta said it is ’logical’ to

assume that there is a strong conflict between RLM’s NBC/AOL business

and the Viacom/CBS holdings, but refused to discuss the future of the PR

relationships.



In-house PR chiefs at Viacom and CBS selected its rival IR firm

Abernathy MacGregor, Frank to help announce the merger, by far the

biggest media deal of all time. The new company will be an dollars 80

billion media behemoth.



Though declining to speculate on RLM’s place in the soon-to-be-merged

company’s PR food chain, CBS SVP of corporate communications Gil

Schwartz praised the work done by Abernathy on last Tuesday’s merger

announcement.



’There was a tsunami of press, all of it on-message. The two executives

(Viacom’s Sumner Redstone and CBS’s Mel Karmazin) have given more

interviews and had more pictures taken than Mick Jagger.’



Schwartz said it was ’clearly premature’ to discuss whether the two

corporate PR offices would be merged.



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