U.S. television network CBS announced Thursday it will explore a possible merger with Viacom amid accelerating consolidation in the media industry. The CBS board "has established a special committee of independent directors to evaluate a potential combination with Viacom," CBS said in a news release after the stock market closed.
The move opens the potential to rejoin two companies that were split in 2006, combining CBS with Viacom's networks which include Nickelodeon, MTV, BET and Comedy Central. The companies previously explored a combination in 2016, but later abandoned the effort. Big media companies are under pressure to lock in top-flight creative content as the traditional broadcast industry is disrupted by Netflix and other streaming options.
Big transactions outstanding include Disney's proposed $52.4 billion acquisition of key 21st Century Fox assets, and AT&T's proposed takeover of Time Warner, which is in litigation following an antitrust complaint by the Department of Justice.