Viacom CEO discusses media

Viacom Chief Executive Officer Sumner Redstone said film and television companies must avoid the music industry’s costly fight to restrict online file sharing in a lecture in the Jack Morton Auditorium Thursday.

The success of digital media would depend on its commercial viability, said Redstone, adding that the film and television industries need to learn from the failures of the music industry and take a different approach to digital media.

“Digital technology is transformational … will media companies be a casualty or stand in the forefront for the growing consumer demand?” he said.

Speaking about digital piracy, he said, “If this sort of theft continues, the incentive to create disappears.”

In order to counter piracy, media companies need to “preempt the pirates” by coming up with ways to use digital file-sharing systems to distribute their products.

Globalization, with the aid of new technology, can take businesses and their consumers farther than ever before, Redstone said.

“Viacom is global because we cannot afford not to be,” he said.

As Viacom’s CEO and chairman, Redstone is credited with making the company one of the world’s largest entertainment powerhouses. Viacom’s major holdings include CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, Comedy Central, Blockbuster and Simon and Schuster publishing house.

Commenting on his success and how others could achieve success, Redstone said, “It’s not about the money, it’s about winning.”

Redstone cited MTV as the “most valuable global media brand in the world.” He said MTV reaches billions of people and the music channel has enjoyed success because it is “universally recognizable but locally focused in content … global in scope but local in character.”

MTV diversifies its content to reflect the culture of an area and features both local and international music stars, not just American ones, he said.

In a 45-minute lecture titled “Competing to Win in Global Media,” Redstone also spoke about government deregulation, which allows for media conglomerates to own more media outlets.

“We’re in this business to make money,” said Redstone, adding that deregulation would help global media corporations become more profitable.

The event was the fifth annual lecture in the School of Business and Public Management’s Robert P. Maxon Endowed Lectureship series. Previous speakers include Nobel Prize winner Vernon L. Smith and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.

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