Viacom Explores Division

NEW YORK Les Moonves and Tom Freston, the co-chief operating officers of Viacom, may not have to compete for the top post at the media conglomerate. Under a plan the company is exploring with its board of directors, Viacom could be split into two publicly traded entities.

One company would consolidate Viacom’s high-growth businesses, such as MTV Networks, managed by Freston. The other company would combine the broadcast holdings with outdoor, radio and other operations, under Moonves.

“Viacom’s businesses have inherently different growth characteristics and investment attributes that appeal to different types of investors,” said Sumner Redstone, chairman and CEO of Viacom. “Separately, these new publicly traded entities could each pursue strategic paths that would maximize their long-term potential.”

Even Redstone speculated that would make the decision about who is to succeed him a lot easier. “The transaction would further the logical and orderly succession process that we put in place,” Redstone said.

The company expects to disclose further details regarding the possible separation in second quarter.