Les Moonves, CBS Chief, Faces Inquiry Over Misconduct Allegations


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CBS, for years the No. 1 broadcast network, has been one of the best-performing businesses in the media industry. Its success has largely been attributed to Mr. Moonves, who has been praised for his ability to select hit shows. He moves comfortably among Wall Street investors and Hollywood producers, speaking as easily about negotiating carriage fees as he does programming for prime-time audiences.

Two months ago, during the network’s rollout of its fall lineup before an audience of advertisers, Mr. Moonves stood on the stage of Carnegie Hall, basking in applause. Those in the crowd were under the impression that they might have been seeing the network’s leader for the last time, because of his battle against Ms. Redstone.

As technology giants like Netflix, Amazon, Apple and Facebook have pushed into entertainment, media businesses have responded by bulking up through acquisitions. This year, Ms. Redstone asked the boards of CBS and Viacom to explore the possibility of a merger.

Mr. Moonves and the majority of the CBS board, however, concluded that a combination would not benefit CBS’s shareholders. The company has a far more robust business, while revenues at Viacom, which includes the cable networks Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central, have been shrinking over the last few years.

In May, CBS and Mr. Moonves lost one of the early rounds of the dispute when a judge ruled against CBS’s effort to reduce Ms. Redstone’s influence over the network. She, through her family company, controls nearly 80 percent of the company’s voting rights.

Issues over those rights and the leadership of CBS will be decided in the court case this year. That lawsuit had already put Mr. Moonves’s storied career at stake; if he loses, he may end up leaving the company.

The New Yorker piece also outlines allegations of sexual harassment by several women against a number of CBS News executives, including Jeffrey Fager, the former head of the news division and the current producer of “60 Minutes.” The story said CBS News executives were still promoted even after allegations of misconduct. The division had paid settlements to some of these women, the article said.

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