Los Angeles Times

Media mogul Sumner Redstone, whose empire included Viacom and CBS, dies at 97

LOS ANGELES - Sumner Redstone, the pugnacious Hollywood titan who controlled media giants Viacom and CBS Corp., died Tuesday after a lengthy illness, according to National Amusements, the Redstone family's private holding company that controls what is now ViacomCBS. He was 97.

Redstone coined the phrase "content is king," and he firmly believed that companies that produced the most popular movies and TV shows, including "Star Trek," "60 Minutes," "NCIS" and "SpongeBob SquarePants," would always be more valuable than distribution channels.

The mogul had been in poor health for years. He grudgingly relinquished his title of executive chairman of the two media companies amid controversy in 2016.

His final years and legacy were tarnished by scandals at his companies and tawdry allegations in his personal life. A former girlfriend alleged in a 2015 lawsuit that Redstone had lost his mental capacity and that others were manipulating him for personal gain. The suit, which was dismissed, focused a harsh light on the fierce power struggles, personal slights and insatiable appetite that were hallmarks of the combative billionaire.

Redstone's lasting imprint will be his role in accelerating media consolidation and his battles to build, then maintain the empire he constructed over three decades. The lawyer-turned-media tycoon ran the family's Massachusetts regional movie theater chain, National Amusements, until he was in his early 60s. He then embarked on a spectacular buying spree that culminated with control of CBS - America's most-watched TV network - the Paramount

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