Viacom (NYSE:VIA) may be coming closer to a sale of its music publishing unit, according to a recent news report. It may not be shocking that it's looking to sell it, but it's certainly noticeable that Viacom even still had Famous Music under its media umbrella.

According to a recent article in The New York Post, Viacom's talks to sell its catalog, Famous Music, have been heating up. Industry experts believe the unit is worth about $300 million, and well-known players in the music biz are reportedly eyeing it, including Sony/ATV Publishing, Warner Music Group (NYSE:WMG), and Vivendi's (NYSE:V) Universal Music Group.

Whether Sony/ATV -- co-owned by Sony (NYSE:SNE) and trusts formed by Michael Jackson -- is more or less interested in Famous Music now is a question, since Reuters reported this week that it has purchased the Leiber-Stoller catalog. Industry analysts believe that catalog was probably worth about $50 million, although no official figure was given. Even more interesting is that Sony/ATV recently got Martin Bandier, who turned EMI's EMI Publishing into the No. 1 music publishing company, to lead its operation. Industry commentary theorizes that he may transform Sony/ATV through strategic acquisitions.

It's also worth noting that in the sometimes confusing world of big music, Sony/ATV and Famous Music are music publishers. That means they link up artists and songwriters and issue various licenses authorizing many different uses of the content (and promote and dole out royalties related to the songs).   

It seems to me Viacom would do well to get rid of a unit in a sector that has hit some hard times recently. It kind of floored me that it still owned Famous Music, since many of its slower-growing media businesses went over to CBS (NYSE:CBS) when the companies split into two entities last year. Upon checking Viacom's 10-K, I noticed that Famous Music resides in its "Filmed Entertainment" unit with Paramount, which seems nothing short of strange, until you take into account that the content in Famous Music's catalog is used in movies and television shows, among other things.

There's something to be said for focus, although Viacom has been getting into some interesting new lines, such as with its acquisitions of Xfire, Harmonix Music Systems, and Atom Entertainment. If you're thinking those all focus on video games, you're right.

Video games and music are legitimate elements of media, forming some interesting symbiotic relationships. (Electronic Arts' (NASDAQ:ERTS) recent joint venture with Canada's Nettwerk underlined interesting new strategies and revenue channels that are presenting themselves.) However, if Viacom's focusing on other opportunities that it sees as higher-growth in its drive to command content, and Sony/ATV is trying to grow its own business through acquisitions, it's easy to see how such an agreement could add up to a win/win situation for both entities.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.