Paramount, Charter Communications Carriage Negotiations to Continue, Averting Blackout

The extension comes after renewal talks were initially set to expire at midnight on Tuesday

Paramount logo

In the midst of a chaotic week that saw the exit of CEO Bob Bakish, Paramount Global extended carriage negotiations with Charter Communications on Tuesday, hours ahead of the current agreement’s expiration at midnight.

While there will be no disruption to programming, representatives for Charter and Paramount declined to comment on the talks or how long the extension would be.

The Spectrum owner, which is the No. 1 pay TV operator in the U.S. with 13.7 million video subscribers, struck a first of its kind agreement with Disney in September, which saw the House of Mouse’s ad-supported streaming services included with the cable giant’s Select TV packages and several of the entertainment giant’s long-tail cable networks dropped.

Charter has previously said that the Disney deal would be a blueprint for future negotiations as it looks to offer customers more flexibility and to avoid paying for the same content twice while helping to stem the bleeding from cord-cutting.

The extension comes a day after Paramount released its first-quarter earnings results for 2024. Along with the results, Bakish officially stepped down from his role atop the company.

He will remain as a senior advisor through Oct. 31 to help ensure a seamless transition of his duties.

Bakish will be replaced by an Office of the CEO comprised of George Cheeks, CBS CEO and president; Chris McCarthy, Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios and Paramount Media Networks CEO and president; and Brian Robbins, Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon CEO and president.

Additionally, the continued carriage negotiations coincide with exclusive merger talks between the studio and David Ellison’s Skydance Media. An individual familiar with negotiations previously told TheWrap that it is unlikely that the Skydance deal would be reached before the exclusivity window ends on May 3. It is unclear if that window will be extended.

That two-step deal would see Skydance acquire the company through controlling shareholder Shari Redstone’s stake in National Amusements, which owns 77% of Paramount voting stock. The second step would see Skydance and Paramount merge to create a combined company valued at around $5 billion.

Skydance, which has been a co-producer with Paramount on projects including “Top Gun: Maverick” and the “Mission: Impossible” franchise, has submitted a revised offer that includes a $3 billion cash infusion and a premium sweetener for a percentage of non-voting Class B shares, the individual said. The new terms are part of an effort to appeal to minority shareholders that have expressed opposition to Skydance’s deal, arguing it prioritizes Redstone at the expense of the rest of the company’s investor base and would be dilutive to their holdings.

Redstone, who is already set to get a premium for her shares, could take less cash and keep more equity in Paramount under one scenario being discussed. She is also open to giving non-voting, minority shareholders say in the approval of any transaction. The deal also must be approved by the Paramount board’s independent special committee.

In addition to Skydance, Apollo Global Management made a $26 billion bid for Paramount, which was reportedly rebuffed due to concerns around the financing of its bid. The private equity firm has since entered talks with Sony about potentially making a new joint bid, though no offer has formally been made.

Paramount shares, which tumbled 7% during Tuesday’s trading session, are down 51.4% in the past year and 21% year to date. Its market capitalization sits at $7.9 billion as of Tuesday’s close.  


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.