This is the first asset sale by AOL Time Warner as executives
try to revive growth at the world's largest media company and to
restore investor credibility by cutting its approximate $29 billion
in total debt, according to Reuters. Comedy Central, which airs
shows like bawdy, animated South Park and the nightly satirical
newscast The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, has thrived financially
for the competing media titans.
Also included in the transaction is comedycentral.com, which features
original programs, schedule information, advanced technology, games,
downloads and an online store. Comedy Central, which reaches 82
million US homes, was launched on April Fool's Day 1991 after Home
Box Office, owned by AOL Time Warner, merged its Comedy Channel
with MTV Networks' HA! comedy network, owned by Viacom.
Te network, one of the few examples of a successful media joint
venture, has gained a reputation for continuing to push the limits
of what can be broadcast on TV with sharp political satire and increasingly
popular gross-out humour.
It has humorously covered political events and introduced original
shows, such as "Mystery Science Theater 3000" and "Politically Incorrect,"
each of which garnered Emmy Award nominations and eventually landed
on other networks.
Viacom chairman and CEO Sumner Redstone has been quoted as saying,
"Expanding our interest in cable networks, one of the fastest
growing and most promising areas of the media industry, remains
a priority for Viacom. Bringing one of the top cable networks brands
fully into our family is a significant and important transaction
both financially and creatively that will bring significant benefits
to Viacom and its shareholders."