In an effort to stave off the dismantling of his media empire, Sumner M. Redstone, the controlling shareholder of Viacom and CBS, recently proposed to sell his family's 1,500-screen theater chain in an effort to restructure his large debt load.

The proposal was made in a plan submitted to his bankers, according to two people briefed on the negotiations who spoke on condition they not be identified. But the proposed sale may not be enough to placate bankers, not least because no one can seem to agree on what the movie theaters are worth.

Here is what just about everyone, including those in Mr. Redstone's inner circle, agrees on: if it gets bad enough, Mr. Redstone has indicated he would be willing to part with CBS, but not Viacom, according to three people briefed on the talks who, like the others involved, spoke on condition of anonymity.

In October, Mr. Redstone was forced to sell more than $200 million of stock in Viacom and CBS to satisfy lenders, and he has been in talks ever since to restructure $1.6 billion of bank debt backed by the value of National Amusements, the holding company that is Mr. Redstone's vehicle for controlling Viacom and CBS.

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