Reading the Redstone Tea Leaves: CBS's Moonves Is Toast

favoured sons and daughters float into Viacom/CBS mogul Sumner Redstone’s life like sunshine after rain. Unfortunately, after a pleasant year or two, they usually get thrown right out again (including his actual sons and daughters).

A couple of quarters ago, Sumner was positively over the moon about CBS (CBS) CEO Les Moonves. But that was before CBS’s stock sucked wind for another six months, Moonves gave himself a $37 million raise, and Viacom (VIAB) CEO Philippe Dauman gradually eclipsed his rival to become the apple of Sumner’s eye.

The key sign Moonves’s days are numbered? Yesterday, Sumner killed Viacom’s deal with CBS’s Showtime, announcing that it would form its own pay channel.

What will happen next? If history repeats itself, Les Moonves will soon be unceremoniously canned–perhaps for not buying Facebook (a previous Sumner protege got axed for not buying MySpace). Sumner will smoosh Viacom and CBS back together, and Philippe Dauman, the latest heir apparent, will enjoy an unobstructed moment in the Sumner sun.

By this time next year, however, if Sumner hasn’t passed, Philippe himself will be done.

See Also: Viacom Bails on CBS’s Showtime, Starts Own Pay Channel

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