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Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp. announced separately Thursday that each of their Board of Directors has established a special committee of independent directors to evaluate a potential merger. In a statement, Viacom says there can be "no assurance" that this process will result in a transaction.

Why it matters: These talks come as more media companies are merging to better compete with tech giants, like Netflix and Amazon. Rumors of a Viacom-CBS merger intensified after Disney and Fox formally announced a merger deal in December.

The news comes the same day that CBS Corp.'s board was expected to discuss a merger with Viacom, per Axios' Dan Primack.

The holding company for CBS and Viacom, National Amusements, said it supports the process in a statement:

  • “National Amusements supports the processes announced by CBS and Viacom to evaluate a combination of the two companies, which we believe has the potential to drive significant, long-term shareholder value.”

According to Viacom, the committee has retained independent legal counsel and independent financial advisors to evaluate the merger.

Viacom and CBS say that their committees and companies don't plan to comment further until the process is completed.

  • The back story: The two companies have shared a complicated business relationship for years. After merging in 1999, Redstone's father, Sumner Redstone, split the companies in 2005. Both businesses have been managed independently ever since. Redstone made waves when she tried to bring the two companies together in late 2016, only to reverse her decision months later.
  • A bright spot: The Wrap reported a few weeks ago that in a departure from previous talks, CBS CEO Les Moonves is now open to a possible deal.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
36 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.

Off the Rails

Episode 2: Barbarians at the Oval

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 2: Trump stops buying what his professional staff are telling him, and increasingly turns to radical voices telling him what he wants to hear. Read episode 1.

President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.

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