MediaFile

National Amusements: Time to talk to the bank

redstone2.jpgAnother day, another twist in the latest Sumner Redstone drama. This time, the media mogul’s company, National Amusements, announced that it’s having sit-downs with its lenders over some debt covenants? What are the covenants? And how much debt to they cover? Nobody outside of the company seems quite sure at this point.

What we do know, is that all of this has been caused by the sharp drop in CBS and Viacom shares — since they are worth far less as assets than they were a a month ago, we assume that some debt-to-assets ratio has become a problem.

What does this mean for Viacom and CBS? Not much, in the short term. Stock of both were steady to slightly higher in early trade. But it does underscore what’s at stake for Redstone, and probably turns up the heat on the companies to perform better and get the stock price moving higher.

Keep an eye on: 

    Google Inc profits surpassed Wall Street quarterly forecasts, as the Internet search and advertising leader held deepening economic gloom at bay (Reuters) NBC Universal’s Spanish-language television operation has cut 85 jobs, reducing its workforce 5 percent (LA Times) The final U.S. presidential debate was watched by about 11 percent fewer Americans than watched the “town hall” format the week before (AdAge)  CBS College Sports said Thursday that it was laying off nearly one-quarter of its staff, or about 30 employees (NY Times) Tribune Company has given a two-year notice to the Associated Press that its daily newspapers plan to drop the news service, becoming the first major newspaper chain to do so since the recent controversy over new rates began (Editor & Publisher)

(Photo: Reuters)

The drama builds in Hollywood

hollywood.jpg

We’re once again wondering who will blink first in Hollywood.

The Screen Actors Guild and the major firm and television studios are having another pow-wow today, and the subject is an ominous sounding “final offer” that management has presented to the union.

As we have seen, the talks so far haven’t gotten around the same sticky issues that prompted a strike this winter by the Writers Guild of America strike. So a take-it-or-leave-it offer by the studios doesn’t sound too promising if the entertainment biz is to avoid another strike.

But wait! SAG executive director and chief negotiator, Doug Allen, suggested on the eve of his union’s formal response that the door to further deal-making remained open. He had this to say in an interview with Reuters:

Viacom rocks with Rock Band

Viacom Chairman Redstone holds $20 bill out to photographers as he poses with wife Fortunato at 80th annual Academy Awards in HollywoodYoutube video we wish existed: Sumner Redstone rocking out on “Rock Band” to the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” or Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive.”

In the meantime we can assume that Viacom’s octogenarian executive chairman is rockin’ today after the media conglomerate said its first quarter profit rose 33 percent on strong sales of the “Rock Band” video game and higher advertising revenue at MTV Networks. Revenue rose 15 percent to $3.1 billion, beating analysts’ estimate of $3 billion.

It gets even better in the Viacom executive suite, at least for today — its film “Iron Man” kicks off the summer blockbuster season to positive reviews, including that of tough Wall Street Journal reviewer Joe Morgenstern who said it had “exhilarating” action and “scintillating” comedy.