Asked about Viacom’s $8.5 billion in debt, Viacom (NYSE: VIA) President & CEO Philippe Dauman told attendees at the UBS Global Media and Communications (PDF) conference that the company is focused on organic growth and tended to avoid acquisitions for the past two years. The most notable one during that time was Harmonix, which brought the company the very successful Rock Band video game franchise. “We have plenty to do in-house; we don’t have to look outside at this point,” he said. The focus right now, not surprisingly, is to contain costs. Alluding to last week’s announcement that Viacom would cut jobs by 7 percent, Dauman said that there will be no salary increases this year as well.
– Rock Band 2: Dauman: “We view this as a long-term franchise. It’s about a year old right now. It fits well with our business; most of our networks are music oriented, so we can also supply talent around it. The forthcoming Beatles video game from Harmonix was something that we got because of Viacom’s profile and the composition of our businesses.”
– Online and mobile: In terms of distribution, Dauman says the company feels it is on solid footing with 350 websites tied to its programming. There’s also the involvement with video site Joost and Viacom is looking at the results of Comedy Central’s limited showing of The Daily Show and Colbert Report on Hulu. As for mobile, there was a lot more talk about that platform last year, as media companies view it as “too experimental” for these tough times. Dauman went down a list of its offerings, but echoed earlier comments from fellow media exec Jeff Zucker, president/CEO of *NBC Universal*, saying that, “It will take time to move the needle on mobile. It won’t just jump up.”