The new face of Viacom/CBS

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Viacom's CBS Corp. deal, completed last week, marks one of the largest consolidations in TV history.

For the moment at least, Viacom owns both the CBS and the United Paramount networks, two TV stations in six major markets -- Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh -- and 162 radio stations.

Last week, the company announced it would merge CBS Cable and MTV Networks under MTV Networks Chairman-CEO Tom Freston. CBS Cable consists of TNN and CMT:Country Music Television and MTV Networks. MTV Networks includes MTV, MTV2, Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, VH1, TV Land and The Box.

Ownership of two TV stations in a major market has only been formally allowed since August and current Federal Communications Commission rules, which are under review and appear likely to change, bar a single company from owning two broadcast networks. Viacom has a year to sell off UPN unless the ownership rule changes.

Viacom also will have to sell off some radio or TV stations within six months under FCC rules, which limit its national reach and the number of stations a company can own in a single market.

That still will leave Viacom as a broadcasting powerhouse. Its precedent-setting ownership of two broadcast networks and more than one TV station in major markets had prompted a number of conversations between the American Association of Advertising Agencies and Justice Department attorneys reviewing the deal. The Justice Department, however, approved the deal without conditions.

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