24 April 2019
Leslie Moonves, 68, is expected to reap an estimated US$100 million in severance. Photo: Reuters
Leslie Moonves, 68, is expected to reap an estimated US$100 million in severance. Photo: Reuters

CBS chief Moonves resigns amid sexual misconduct claims

CBS Corp. chief executive Leslie Moonves resigned from the company amid fresh allegations of sexual assault and harassment, Reuters reports.

The US broadcast and media group announced that chief operating officer Joe Ianiello will take over as interim CEO as the board searches for a replacement.

It also announced a deal to end litigation against controlling shareholder Shari Redstone and National Amusements Inc. for control of the company.

The settlements end years of uncertainty over the future of CBS and could potentially open the door future deals.

Earlier on Sunday, six more women accused Moonves of sexual assault and harassment in a report published in the New Yorker.

The magazine reported that these women said Moonves also retaliated after they rebuffed him, damaging their careers.

Following the New Yorker report in August, Moonves said he regretted “immensely” making some women uncomfortable by making advances, but added that he abided by the principle that “no means no” and stated he had never misused his position to harm or hinder anyone’s career.

National Amusements agreed to avoid pressing for a merger of CBS and Viacom, which is also controlled by National Amusements, for at least two years.

In earlier court filings, NAI had dropped support for a deal before it was sued in May by CBS for control of the company.

The settlement does not preclude other parties from suggesting a merger or bringing other potential transactions to the board, one source said.

Moonves, 68, who turned CBS from an aging radio and TV broadcaster into a provider of shows to digital platforms, was expected to reap an estimated US$100 million in severance.

But Moonves could end up with nothing pending an investigation into allegations of violence against women conducted by law firms hired by an independent committee of the CBS board of directors.

CBS said it and Moonves will donate US$20 million of Moonves’ severance to organizations supporting the #MeToo movement.

Five current independent directors and one National Amusement-affiliated director have stepped down from the board of directors and six new directors have been elected, the company said.

The author of the New Yorker articles, Ronan Farrow, previously has written reports that contributed to the resignation of Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein from his film and TV studio following accusations of sexual misconduct.

Weinstein has denied the accusations. His downfall helped spawn the #MeToo movement that has forced the resignation of powerful men in Hollywood, corporate America and politics.

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