Viacom Buys All Of Comedy Central

Comedy Central logo, graphic element
Viacom, Inc.
AOL Time Warner Inc. has sold its half ownership in Comedy Central to Viacom Inc., the cable channel's other owner, for a total of $1.225 billion.

Comedy Central will joint MTV Networks' lineup of basic cable channels.

The sale of Comedy Central is the first major deal in AOL Time Warner's quest to sell assets for cash to reduce the media giant's more than $26 billion in debt. The sale includes the network's Web site, comedycentral.com

AOL reportedly also is considering selling its professional sports teams in Atlanta and is expected to spin off its Time Warner Cable unit later this year, which would raise additional cash.

According to an announcement from Viacom, Comedy Central reaches 82 million U.S. Households and its "schedule includes an eclectic mix of original programming, stand-up comedy, sketch comedy and movies."

The purchase will aid Comedy Central because of "Viacom's proven success" in operating cable channels that appeal to younger viewers, said Mel Karmazin, president and chief operating officer of Viacom.

Comedy Central has enjoyed success in recent years with programs such as "South Park," "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," and "Crank Yankers."

Viacom announced that Larry Divney will remain president of Comedy Central and the network will continue to be based in New York and Los Angeles.

"We love Comedy Central and are thrilled to bring Larry Divney and his team into MTV Networks," said MTV networks CEO Tom Freston. "They have built a great operation and Comedy Central will have a wonderful future with us."

Divney, for his part, said "we couldn't be happier about joining Viacom and becoming part of MTV Networks, the best collection of cable networks ever assembled."

CBSNews.com is also part of Viacom.

Besides CBS and MTV, other well-known Viacom brands include Nickelodeon, BET, Paramount Pictures, Infinity Radio, Showtime, Blockbuster, and Simon & Schuster.