Paramount Chief Executive Bob Bakish Could Be Out Next Week

Paramount is preparing to announce the departure of its chief executive, Bob Bakish, as soon as next week, according to three people with knowledge of the matter, a sudden development even as the company is exploring a merger.

The impending move is a result of Mr. Bakish’s worsening relationship with Shari Redstone, the company’s controlling shareholder, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing a delicate matter. Ms. Redstone grew frustrated with what she saw as his inability to get important deals across the finish line, including a sale of the Showtime and BET cable channels, the people said.

Two people familiar with the matter said several of Paramount’s senior executives had expressed reservations about the direction of the company to a representative of the board of directors in recent weeks, further eroding Mr. Bakish’s standing with Ms. Redstone.

The company is in talks to merge with Skydance, a media company controlled by David Ellison, the tech scion and Hollywood producer. It is also negotiating a lucrative deal to keep channels like Nickelodeon and MTV on the Charter cable system.

National Amusements, Paramount’s owner, is contemplating various options to replace Mr. Bakish, 60, who has led Paramount and its predecessor company, Viacom, since 2016 and has worked at the company since 1997. In one possibility, Paramount would be run by an “office of the C.E.O.” led by division chiefs like Brian Robbins, the head of the Paramount movie studio; George Cheeks, the top executive of CBS; and Chris McCarthy, president of Paramount’s entertainment and youth brands. The company could also choose to put an acting chief executive in place.

Paramount declined to comment. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that Paramount’s board was considering replacing Mr. Bakish.

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