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Vulcan Zaz

david zaslav
Zaz has long coveted CBS: My bet is that he would still love to get his hands on the asset and combine it with CNN to create a news-gathering behemoth. Photo: Charley Gallay/Getty Images for TCM
William D. Cohan
May 12, 2024

Now that the battle for Paramount has entered the black box phase, wherein everyone stays quiet and the bankers and lawyers help Shari Redstone decide to sell her company to either RedBird and Skydance (and face shareholder lawsuits aplenty) or Apollo and Sony (and face months of government scrutiny) or just say Fuck it, and keep going it alone (without much of a strategy, or an individual C.E.O., and down four board members). There aren’t any brilliant solutions at this point, particularly with her potential partners all likely feeling some level of deal fatigue amid this indecisive and self-destructive auction process. That’s in part why I think the person most likely to walk away with some of the most interesting, and potentially strategic, spoils of this war will be our friend David Zaslav at Warner Bros. Discovery. 

After all, both Sony/Apollo and Skydance/RedBird are primarily interested in the Paramount studio; neither cares as much about Paramount+ and CBS. Meanwhile, Zaz has long coveted CBS, as he told me years ago, before he did the deal for WarnerMedia. My bet is that he would still love to get his hands on the asset and combine it with CNN to create a news-gathering behemoth, and then unleash C.F.O. Gunnar Wiedenfels and his team of synergy experts to jettison costs left and right. Would Zaz also be interested in the local CBS stations? I don’t know, but if WBD doesn’t want them, chances are they could find a home at Tegna, Nexstar, Gray, or Sinclair. The sale of CBS and its affiliated stations would likely have significant tax implications, but their value is much lower than it was years ago, so I suspect that can be managed.