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Did Viacom Slight Shareholders By Naming Deborah Norville To The Board?

By | Friday March 22, 2013 @ 5:20pm PDT

Corporate governance practices at Viacom have been so bad for so long that I was tempted yesterday to just laugh off the announcement — made right after the annual shareholder meeting — that it has appointed Inside Edition anchor Deborah Norville to its 15-member board. Sumner Redstone owns about 79% of the voting shares. What he says goes. So what difference does it make if the board includes someone who has never demonstrated an interest in corporate finance or affairs? Norville has ”more than 30 years of media and television experience and brings a unique perspective to our board that enhances the diversity,” a Viacom spokesman says.

Sorry, but that’s not good enough. Viacom is a $30.8B global company that employs nearly 10,000 people. And Redstone controls 79% — not 100%. He gladly takes other people’s money to run the enterprise. That means he has both a legal and moral responsibility to protect them as well as himself. It should lead him to bend over backwards to ensure that the board represents shareholders, and does so effectively. It needs people who know what’s on investors’ minds, who are well versed in the issues being discussed, and feel independent and fearless enough to stand up to Redstone when they think he’s wrong. Read More »

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Viacom Names Deborah Norville To Its Expanded Board Of Directors

By | Thursday March 21, 2013 @ 12:12pm PDT

The Inside Edition anchor joins Cristiana Falcone Sorrell, who’s Senior Adviser to the Chairman at the World Economic Forum, on the Viacom board which has been expanded to 13 members. Sumner Redstone says the newcomers bring “valuable skills and complementary experience to our current board.” Sorrell also brings a close connection to the advertising world: She’s married to WPP Group chief Martin Sorrell. Norville’s appointment is a surprise. She’s not known to have had a particular interest in the world of finance and corporate governance. Viacom’s release notes that she “graduated 4.0 summa cum laude from the University of Georgia, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.”

NEW YORK, March 21, 2013 — Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIAB and VIA) today announced the election of Cristiana Falcone Sorrell and Deborah Norville as members of the Viacom Board of Directors, effective immediately. In connection with the election of Ms. Falcone Sorrell and Ms. Norville, the Viacom Board has expanded from eleven to thirteen members.

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