CBS beats Street estimate, but CEO Les Moonves is silent on sexual misconduct allegations

Earnings


Moonves remains CEO of CBS as two law firms conduct an investigation into claims by six women described in an article in the New Yorker magazine last Friday. They said Moonves sexually harassed them in incidents between 1985 and 2006.

Moonves was quoted in the New Yorker as saying that he “may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances,” which he called mistakes that he regretted immensely, but that he understood “‘no’ means ‘no”‘ and had never used his position to harm anyone’s career.

The CBS board approved the hiring of the law firms on Wednesday and also set up a special board committee to help the probe. Moonves will have no role in the investigation, CBS said.

The investigation will also look at broader corporate cultural issues at CBS.

CBS stock is down more than 9.0 percent since publication of the New Yorker article on July 27.

Moonves is the latest executive to come under scrutiny by the #MeToo social media movement, which has demanded accountability from business leaders, politicians and entertainers accused of sexual misconduct and has led to resignations in major corporations, Hollywood and among lawmakers in the past year.

The claims about Moonves also come as he is locked in a battle over control of CBS with the company’s largest shareholder, National Amusements Inc, which is owned by Shari Redstone and her father Sumner Redstone.

Moonves has opposed efforts by Shari Redstone for CBS to merge with media company Viacom Inc, also owned by National Amusements.

Moonves, who has served as CEO of the media company since it was split from Viacom Inc in 2006, has resisted a deal to reunite the companies because he believes CBS’s prospects are brighter without taking on Viacom’s turnaround challenges.



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