Television

Media mogul Sumner Redstone dies at 97

He is believed to have coined the phrase 'Content is King'

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KOLKATA: The man who ruled over media for decades and is believed to have coined the famous cliche ‘Content is King’, Sumner Redstone, died on 11 August at the age of 97. The cause of his death was not mentioned.

The Harvard-educated media mogul is the pioneer of multiplex model in the 1960s and turned it into a multi-billion-dollar media empire. He started the trend of bringing movies into shopping malls as well as more than one screen at the same site. Following the success in theatres, he started investing in movie companies. 

Later in the mid-1980s, when he realised the rapidly increasing value of cable television, he went after Viacom. He bought Viacom for $3.4 billion in 1987 and later he acquired Paramount for more than $10 billion. He did not stop there. His quest for content led him to add CBS to the portfolio in 1999 in a deal valued at $37 billion. As he once said, “I’ve always wanted to win” was not a vague motivational talk as his acquisition of Viacom has mostly borrowed money, a risk very few could take.

The student of law, his knowledge often reflected throughout his life whenever there was a legal battle to expand or save his empire. Not only is his career in media colourful but he has also been a rockstar everywhere. He worked with an elite US Army unit that cracked Japanese codes during World War Two while he was a student at Harvard. After he earned his law course, he successfully pleaded a case before the US Supreme Court. 

Redstone always boasted that he never wanted to retire. But in the later years of his life, his health condition made investors, shareholders question if he was fit for the responsibilities anymore. In 2016, he stepped down as executive chairman of CBS. His adventurous ride in media was depicted by himself in one of the most spectacular business autobiographies “A Passion to Win.”

“Sumner Redstone was a brilliant visionary, operator and dealmaker, who single-handedly transformed a family-owned drive-in theatre company into a global media portfolio,” said ViacomCBS president and CEO Bob Bakish.

“He was a force of nature and fierce competitor, who leaves behind a profound legacy in both business and philanthropy. ViacomCBS will remember Sumner for his unparalleled passion to win, his endless intellectual curiosity, and his complete dedication to the company. We extend our deepest sympathies to the Redstone family today,” he added.

Redstone’s later years were full of public disputes with his family members as well as former girlfriends. To a better ending, his daughter Shari E Redstone, who once wanted to go on a different path, gradually took control over the giant business.

"My father led an extraordinary life that not only shaped entertainment as we know it today but created an incredible family legacy. 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," she shared in a statement:
 

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