CBS will keep CEO Les Moonves in place during an investigation of sexual misconduct charges against him, the company said. It will hire an outside counsel to conduct the probe, the AP reports. On Friday a New Yorker article quoted six women who accused Moonves of sexual misconduct over a span of three decades. The alleged behavior included forced kissing, unwanted sexual advances and career retaliation against women who rebuffed him. CBS issued a statement even before the article was published saying it took the allegations seriously and would begin an investigation. The CBS board on Monday also voted to postpone the shareholder meeting that had been scheduled for Aug. 10 to a later date yet to be determined. It reports its quarterly earnings on Thursday. Shares closed down 5% at $51.28, and were largely unchanged in after hours trading.
If its CEO is suspended or departs altogether, CBS would lose its chief amid rapid change in the entertainment industry and a corporate battle with media mogul Shari Redstone, who controls both CBS and its corporate sibling Viacom. Moonves is pushing to keep CBS independent against the wishes of Redstone, who wants to combine CBS with Viacom. If Moonves exits, one possible successor is Viacom CEO Bob Bakish, at least if Redstone gets her way. Under Moonves, CBS is suing to limit Redstone's ability to engineer a merger. Should Moonves exit the picture, however, a combination would become more likely, and Bakish would be in a good position to helm the entire company. Should that happen, one analyst says the effect on CBS could be "shattering." He would expect several other important executives to also depart, either out of loyalty to Moonves or through association with the sexual misconduct scandal. Any resulting integration, he said, would likely be "very, very difficult."
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