US media mogul Sumner Redstone, formerly the executive chairman of both CBS and Viacom, has died aged 97.
He died at his home in Los Angeles on August 11.
A once-towering figure in media, he built his father’s drive-in theatre business into an empire that included Viacom, Paramount Pictures and CBS Corp.
National Amusements, the Redstone family’s private holding company controls what is now ViacomCBS, MTV, TV Land, VidCon, Smithsonian Channel, CBS Television Studios, CBS Productions, Showtime Networks, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, Big Ticket Television, ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks, ViacomCBS Networks International, Comedy Central, Paramount Pictures, Miramax, CBS Television Stations, Network 10 and TV distributor CBS Television Distribution.
According to Forbes, as of September 2015, he was worth US$5 billion. He famously coined the phrase “content is king” to emphasise his interest in programming and production assets.
“My father led an extraordinary life that not only shaped entertainment as we know it today, but created an incredible family legacy,” Shari Redstone told Variety in a statement. “Through it all, we shared a great love for one another and he was a wonderful father, grandfather and great-grandfather. I am so proud to be his daughter and I will miss him always.”
But there were also public battles with family members, and his legacy was tarnished in his final years by corporate battles and sordid allegations by former girlfriends.
“Sumner was a man of unrivaled passion and perseverance, who devoted his life to his belief in the power of content,” National Amusements said. “With his passing, the media industry he loved so dearly loses one of its great champions. Sumner, a loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather, will be greatly missed by his family who take comfort knowing that his legacy will live on for generations to come.”
The Boston-bred mogul who ruled his businesses with an iron fist was forced to step down as chairman of CBS and Viacom in early February 2016 amid pressure from shareholders and activists questioning his mental capacity.
Redstone famously vowed he would live forever, so he wouldn’t bother picking his successor.