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Viacom Looks for Growth Outside the U.S.

Media: CEO Redstone wants the company to be ready for a rebound in international markets.

May 20, 1999| From Bloomberg News

LONDON — Viacom Inc., the world's fourth-biggest media company, will see more of its growth in the future from markets outside the U.S., Chief Executive and Chairman Sumner Redstone told shareholders.

"Ninety-six percent of the world's eyeballs are outside the United States," he said at the company's annual meeting, which was held in London in an effort to attract European investors. "Our business is going to be increasingly driven by the promise of the international marketplace."

As cable and satellite television become more prevalent in Europe, Asia and Latin America, Viacom is positioning its channels--which include MTV, Nickelodeon and VH1--to win market share and advertising.

It's also building movie theaters in international markets to help spur demand for films produced by its Paramount Studios.

Only about 20% of Viacom's sales, which grew 13% in 1998, come from outside the U.S., Redstone said.

He forecast, however, that key businesses such as the MTV Networks, whose channels Viacom has adapted for different languages and cultures, will eventually make more money outside the U.S. than inside.

"The economies in Asia and Latin America won't turn around overnight, but they will turn around," he said. "And when they do, our presence will already be well-established and a tremendous stream of revenue will be ours."

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