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Viacom Chief Dauman Touts Top-Performing Discs, But Warns of Fewer Movies

2 Mar, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey

Viacom CEO and president Philippe Dauman March 2 said he believes less is more for DVD, if you have the right content.

“It will be a challenging environment on the DVD side, but, even in a weak environment, the top titles, take Iron Man for example, do very well,” he said, speaking at the 17th annual Deutsche Bank Media and Telecommunications Conference on March 2.

“In a tough environment, we’re very well positioned,” he said. “We’re financially strong. We’ll get through this.”
Speaking mostly about Viacom’s broadcast properties, Dauman said advertising is where the company is seeing the biggest revenue drops. In mid-February, Viacom posted income of $173 million for the fourth quarter of 2008, down 69% from $560 million during the same period in 2007. Before those results came in, in December Viacom slashed 850 positions, or about 7% of its workforce. The layoffs extended to Paramount Home Entertainment. Additionally, Dauman said salaries for all Viacom employees are frozen, except on the very bottom levels of the workforce.

“We’ve done all of this without affecting the value of our brands,” he said, noting that Viacom paid down about $1 billion in debt during the second half of 2008.

Nickelodeon, Spike and Comedy Central continue to see growth on the broadcast side, while MTV, VH1 and BET are all struggling, Dauman said. For theatrical, he said fewer movies from Paramount doesn’t mean lower quality, pointing to the upcoming Star Trek and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen releases.

In the digital realm, Dauman said Viacom is seeing little in the way of revenue, but as long as Internet video doesn’t affect broadcast revenue, Viacom properties will continue to show up online. “We have developed our digital activities in conjunction with our brands … [and that’s] allowed us to provide more integrated market opportunities for our advertisers,” he said.

“We’ve been very careful how we plan our online world. … We don’t put everything out day and date.”

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