TheViacom split took a step closer to reality yesterday [June 14] when the boardagreed to separate Paramount Pictures and the cable operations from thetelevision networks and radio divisions.

Viacom co-chief operatingofficer Tom Freston will take overall charge of the studio and cable networksMTV, Nickelodeon and VH1.

This entity will keep theViacom name and is regarded as the strongest growth package at theconglomerate.

Co-chief operating officerLes Moonves will assume control of the entity comprising CBS and UPN television networks, several othertelevision stations and Infinity Broadcasting.

Viacom announced itsintention to split the company back in march following sluggish television and radio results.

Conglomerate chairman SumnerRedstone said he would sell the Famous Players theatre chain for approximately$400m to Cineplex Galaxy and is considering selling theme parks and the Simon& Schuster book publishing unit.

Redstone said his daughterShari would become non-executive vice chairman.