By Joshua Jamerson

Viacom Inc., still exploring a merger with CBS Corp., reported its profit plunged 71% in the latest quarter, hurt by continued soft performance at its networks and a weaker showing at the box office.

The results come after Sumner Redstone's National Amusements Inc. in September publicly called for the boards of Viacom and CBS to explore a reunion of the media giants, arguing that a combined company could better tackle shifting consumer trends. The company didn't give an update on any potential tie-up in its earnings release.

In the September quarter, Viacom's media networks revenue declined 11% to $2.48 billion, due to declines in affiliate and advertising revenues. Revenue in the filmed entertainment division declined 24% to $774 million, as theatrical revenues declined 55% on a lower showing at the box office compared with the prior-year quarter.

A CBS-Viacom merger would bring the two companies together a decade after they split, and would come after a year of corporate drama at Viacom. Viacom's longtime former CEO, Philippe Dauman, was ousted over the summer amid a power struggle. Viacom has said 19-year company veteran Bob Bakish is slated to take the helm from interim CEO Tom Dooley.

Over all, Viacom posted a profit of $254 million, or 64 cents a share, compared with $884 million, or $2.21 a share, in the prior year quarter. Excluding items, Viacom earned 69 cents a share. The company guided for adjusted earnings in a range of 65 cents to 70 cents.

Revenue slipped 15% to $3.23 billion, as analysts expected revenue of $3.3 billion.

Earlier this month, CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves said recently that a decision on whether to reunite with Viacom was "still in the very early stages." CBS reported profit grew 12% in the latest quarter, thanks to continuing growth in fees from pay-TV distributors.

Shares were inactive premarket.

Write to Joshua Jamerson at joshua.jamerson@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 09, 2016 07:54 ET (12:54 GMT)

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