Viacom Enterprises (VE) was a television distribution company formed in 1971 as the successor to the original CBS Enterprises (formerly CBS Films), and spun off in 1973 due to now-repealed Federal Communications Commission bylaws prohibiting networks from syndicating their own shows or from producing shows for first-run syndication. It is a predecessor company of what is now CBS Television Distribution.
VE's purpose upon formation was to distribute the classic CBS library, which also included the pre-1960 library of Desilu Productions. It distributed other series as well, among them All in the Family until 1991, the Carsey-Werner Company library, and for a number of years distributed the MTM Enterprises library until MTM acquired Victory Television in 1980. It also distributed the first four seasons of The Montel Williams Show, the pre-1984 New World Pictures library, most of the Cannon Films library, a majority of the Elvis Presley films originally released by Paramount Pictures, the FNN-produced program, Business This Morning and the CNBC-produced program, This Morning's Business.
In 1974, VE formed Viacom Productions to produce first-run television series airing on the major television networks. In 1986, the company became a subsidiary of the newly reincorporated Viacom Inc., after a takeover by movie theatre exhibition company National Amusements.
Today, many of the shows previously distributed by Viacom Enterprises are now distributed by CBS Television Distribution, while most of the theatrical output (which had included the Cannon Films and Elvis Presley libraries) are now handled by Trifecta Entertainment and Media under license from Paramount (films either produced in-house by CBS or had ancillary rights revert to CBS in later years are still distributed by CTD). However, worldwide television rights (outside of the United States and Canada) to the Cannon library belongs to MGM International Television Distribution. There are a few exceptions to the current distribution rights:
- All in the Family switched distributors in 1991 to Columbia Pictures Television Distribution, which is now Sony Pictures Television
- As mentioned above, the MTM library changed distributors to Victory Television in 1980. Victory was later reincorporated as MTM Television Distribution in 1986, which in turn was folded into 20th Television after News Corporation (now 21st Century Fox) bought MTM
- Viacom was the original distributor for The Super Mario Bros. Super Show (although they were uncredited until the end of each program), produced by DiC Enterprises. That show is now owned by DHX Media for all distribution rights
- The distribution rights for the Dr. Seuss animated television specials produced by CBS and DePatie-Freleng Enterprises were sold to Universal Studios (owners of a theme park license for the Seuss universe and producers of a few theatrical Seuss adaptations) in 2001. NBCUniversal Television Distribution handled these specials for television until about 2011 (with the exceptions of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Horton Hears a Who, which were made by MGM Animation/Visual Arts and MGM Television and are now owned by Time Warner's Warner Bros. Television, due to the pre-May 1986 MGM film and TV library being bought out by Turner Entertainment, which itself was bought out by Time Warner along with Turner Broadcasting System). Warner Bros. now owns the TV and DVD distribution rights to the Dr. Seuss specials
- Several Hanna-Barbera series that aired on CBS were once distributed by Viacom. These shows later transferred to Worldvision Enterprises (except for Harlem Globetrotters, co-produced by CBS), and are now owned by Warner Bros. Television (Worldvision itself has also been folded in part into what became CTD)
- The Garfield cartoon specials and Garfield and Friends TV show were sold to 20th Century Fox (which released the live-action Garfield movies) in 2004. The worldwide rights to the series are owned by Starz Media Global, while the DVD rights resides with Starz Media's home entertainment subsidiary Anchor Bay Entertainment
- Rights to The Rookies , originally handled by Viacom and later by Worldvision, are now owned by Sony Pictures Television through the Spelling-Goldberg library.