Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman addressed the growing controversy around Viacom founder and executive chairman Sumner Redstone’s health, and called for media outlets to treat reports concerning the media mogul’s status with respect and humanity.
The 92-year old Redstone is the focus of a lawsuit filed by a former girlfriend that claims he is no longer in command of his mental faculties and seeking to be reinstated as his primary health care agent. Redstone’s attorneys have disputed those claims and Dauman said he would not comment on the litigation.
But the Viacom CEO did address concerns about succession should Redstone not be able to make decisions for the company, adding that the chairman long ago set the wheels in motion to assure continuity.
Redstone owns 80% of National Amusements, a private entity that owns 80% of Viacom and CBS. Redstone’s daughter Shari owns the remaining 20% of National Amusements. As has been stated publicly in the past, should Redstone die, his interest would be placed in a trust controlled by two family members and 5 non-family directors (including Dauman), each of whom are independent-minded and each with an fiduciary duty to both the best interest of the trust and the companies it controls. But no one individual would have control, he stressed.
As far as Redstone’s health care decisions, Dauman said that he had been named the chairman’s health care agent in the event Redstone himself can no longer make those decisions for himself, a responsibility he takes seriously.
“It’s not a big secret, he’s 92-years-old and has physical ailments that require him to be under medical supervision,” Dauman said. “Contrary to what some people are saying, no one other than Sumner Redstone is making healthcare decisions for him.”
He added that he speaks with Redstone several times per week, meets with him regularly, but added that “what has been said [about Redstone] has been disturbing.”
Dauman also seemed to chafe at the media circus that has focused on some of the more prurient aspects of the litigation. He called for those that speak or write about the situation to remember that they are writing about a human being “who has accomplished a whole lot,” and has an “incredible will to live and an enjoyment of life with some physical disabilities.”
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