Sumner Redstone, one of a generation of media titans who shaped the business of films and television in the modern era, has died aged 97.
Mr Redstone, a Boston native and veteran of the second world war, transformed a regional drive-in cinema chain into a global entertainment empire spanning the Paramount film studio and two of the most prominent US media companies: Viacom, home to MTV and Cartoon Network, and the broadcaster CBS.
One of the industry’s most colourful and enduring characters, he coined the terms “multiplex cinema” and “content is king”. He was chief executive of Viacom from 1996 through 2005, after which he continued to serve as executive chairman on the boards of Viacom and CBS.
The billionaire had promised to never give up managing his empire. In 2014, age 91, he dismissed his daughter’s prospects as the next chief of the family business, saying he would “not discuss succession . . . you know why? I’m not going to die”.
But as Mr Redstone aged in recent years, Shari had taken control of the conglomerate. She shepherded the reunion of Viacom and CBS last year.
Bob Bakish, chief executive of ViacomCBS, said Mr Redstone was a “brilliant visionary, operator and dealmaker”.
“He was a force of nature and fierce competitor, who leaves behind a profound legacy in both business and philanthropy,” he said.
National Amusements, the Redstone holding company, 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.”