via NYTimes DealBook:
Jul. 18, 2006
Viacom and The Onion: Parody or Deal?
TOPICS: Mergers & Acquisitions, Viacom
It almost sounds like one of The Onion's made-up news items: Variety is reporting — without even mentioning sources, much less identifying them — that Viacom may acquire The Onion, the satirical newspaper and Web site whose headlines made "Area Man" into a minor celebrity. Other sources, including the Huffington Post, Paidcontent.org and Gawker, have also reported on a potential Viacom-Onion connection, even as they played up the speculative nature of the story.
While a source tells DealBook that such a deal has indeed been discussed, it is in very early stages and may never happen.
At first blush, a free, fake newspaper may sound like an odd acquisition for Viacom. But The Onion's ersatz news, while different in tone from that offered by the Viacom-owned Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report," could conceivably fit in well with the media giant's Web strategy.
Also, The Onion's A.V. Club, though largely unheralded, features well-regarded (and totally serious) criticism of music, movies, books and games. With the backing of Viacom, the A.V. Club's reviews could be put in front of a lot more people and pose a challenge to more traditional sources of arts criticism.
A Viacom spokeswoman told DealBook the company declined to comment. A representative from The Onion was not immediately available Wednesday for comment.