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The end of the era of powerful media moguls

Assif Shameen
Assif Shameen9/17/2018 08:00 AM GMT+08  • 10 min read
The end of the era of powerful media moguls
SINGAPORE (Sept 17): For 10 weeks every Sunday night between early June and August, American TV viewers seemed hooked on Succession, a drama about a media baron and his dysfunctional family. Logan Roy, the ageing patriarch and owner of Waystar Royco, a gl
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SINGAPORE (Sept 17): For 10 weeks every Sunday night between early June and August, American TV viewers seemed hooked on Succession, a drama about a media baron and his dysfunctional family. Logan Roy, the ageing patriarch and owner of Waystar Royco, a global media conglomerate, is not interested in giving up control of his empire even as his children jockey to take the reins. Despite a carefully laid succession plan, tempers flare over Logan’s intentions as Kendall, the eldest son from his second wife and heir apparent and president at one of the firm’s key divisions, plots with a rival conglomerate to take over his dad’s firm. As the drama unfolds, viewers have a sense of déjà vu. In some ways, Succession merges the ongoing saga of the Murdochs, led by patriarch Rupert, who control 21st Century Fox, and the Redstones, who control CBS and Viacom, into a single TV soap opera.

Life indeed imitates art, but if you think the twists and turns of the first season of Succession are fascinating, you probably have not being paying attention to the real-life drama unfolding in the Murdoch and Redstone households and the boardrooms they control.

On Sept 9, Les Moonves, the long-time CEO of CBS and the closest confidant of billionaire chairman emeritus Sumner Redstone (pictured, main image), was forced to step down after a story in The New Yorker quoted six more women recounting disturbing and graphic allegations of his sexual misconduct, following the six who had made similar allegations against him two months ago. It was a stunning downfall of the world’s highest-paid media executive — who has received US$650 million ($894.8 million) in salary, bonuses and stock options over the past 12 years as CEO, and was set to collect another US$180 million if he was ousted. Moonves may still walk away with up to US$120 million in compensation unless further investigations find him guilty.

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