(Reuters) – U.S. broadcasting and media firm CBS Corp (CBS.N) mentioned it was investigating claims of non-public misconduct by its chief govt Leslie Moonves made in a New Yorker journal article that was printed on Friday.
The allegations in opposition to Moonves surfaced as he’s locked in a authorized battle over management of CBS with the corporate’s largest shareholder, Nationwide Amusements Inc, owned by Shari Redstone and her father Sumner who additionally management media firm Viacom (VIAB.O).
The New Yorker report featured claims in opposition to Moonves from six ladies spanning completely different time durations over twenty years, from 1985 to 2006. The allegations included sexual assault and undesirable advances.
Reuters couldn’t independently confirm the accusations in opposition to Moonves.
“I acknowledge that there have been instances many years in the past once I might have made some ladies uncomfortable by making advances”, Moonves mentioned in an emailed assertion to Reuters.
“These had been errors, and I remorse them immensely,” Moonves mentioned. “However I at all times understood and revered – and abided by the precept – that ‘no’ means ‘no,’ and I’ve by no means misused my place to hurt or hinder anybody’s profession. This can be a time once we all are appropriately targeted on how we assist enhance our society, and we at CBS are dedicated to being a part of the answer.”
One of many ladies within the story was recognized as actress Illeana Douglas. Douglas’ publicist Danny Deraney confirmed her feedback within the story.
“Actual change will happen when victims of sexual assaults usually are not stigmatized as whistle blowers, or individuals with some type of agenda for coming ahead,” Douglas mentioned in an announcement.
“Talking for myself, actual change will happen once I can stroll by way of the entrance doorways of CBS and resume the inventive and dealing relationship that was so tragically minimize brief in 1997,” she added.
In line with the New Yorker, 30 present and former CBS staff described harassment, gender discrimination, or retaliation for refusing sexual advances on the firm.
CBS mentioned in an announcement that it takes every report of misconduct very critically but it surely doesn’t consider “the image of our Firm created in The New Yorker represents a bigger group that does its greatest to deal with its tens of 1000’s of staff with dignity and respect.”
Earlier on Friday, earlier than the New Yorker article was printed, CBS mentioned in an announcement that its board would promptly overview the findings and take applicable motion.
COMBINATION WITH VIACOM
Moonves, 68, joined CBS in 1995 as president of CBS Leisure and has been CEO since 2006. He’s extensively credited with turning CBS into one of many top-performing U.S. media corporations.
Moonves clashed with Shari Redstone earlier this yr over her bid to merge CBS with Viacom Inc, additionally owned by Nationwide Amusements. Moonves resisted that deal as a result of he believed CBS’s prospects had been higher with out taking over Viacom’s turnaround challenges.
A CBS board committee in Could turned down the potential merger with Viacom and sued to strip Nationwide Amusements of its management of CBS.
Redstone is difficult a plan by CBS to subject a particular dividend aimed toward chopping Nationwide Amusements’ voting energy within the firm to 17 p.c from 80 p.c. The trial in a Delaware court docket is anticipated to start out in October.
Earlier than the story was printed, a spokeswoman for Nationwide Amusements Inc mentioned, “(Shari) Redstone hopes that the investigation of those allegations is thorough, open and clear.” The spokeswoman declined to remark additional. Viacom additionally declined to remark.
Combining CBS, which owns cable networks together with Showtime in addition to the CBS TV Community and CBS TV Studios, with Viacom, whose companies embrace Paramount Photos, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and MTV, would have extra negotiating leverage with cable and satellite tv for pc corporations, analysts mentioned.
Viacom shares ended up four.5 p.c at $29.35 on Friday, whereas CBS shares closed about 6 p.c decrease at $54.01, as traders speculated that the possibilities of a merger between the 2 corporations had elevated.
#METOO SOCIAL MEDIA MOVEMENT
A number of accusations of sexual misconduct in opposition to politicians, enterprise leaders and entertainers in america have been made prior to now yr, resulting in resignations, usually impressed by the #MeToo social motion.
Veteran TV journalist Charlie Rose, 76, was fired by CBS in November after being accused by greater than 10 ladies of sexual misconduct. Rose apologized for inappropriate habits however questioned the accuracy of a number of the accounts. Reuters couldn’t independently confirm the accusations.
Moonves has been married since 2004 to Julie Chen, a CBS information anchor and TV host. Chen tweeted on Friday that she stands by Moonves and that he’s a “good man and a loving father, devoted husband and galvanizing company chief.”
The writer of the New Yorker article, Ronan Farrow, beforehand has written stories that contributed to the resignation of Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein from his movie and TV studio.
Greater than 70 ladies, largely actresses and different ladies employed within the film enterprise, have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, together with rape, in a collection of incidents relationship again many years. Weinstein has denied the accusations.
Reporting by Liana B. Baker in New York; Extra reporting by Vibhuti Sharma and Sonam Rai in Bengaluru and Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles; Modifying by Clive McKeef