CBS board hires outside law firms to lead Les Moonves investigation

Stephen Colbert

"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 school said in a statement: "The USC School of Cinematic Arts has suspended Lee Moonves from its Board of Councilors".

White was the chair of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission until 2016 and a former United States Securities and a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of NY from 1993 to 2002.

The investigation by the law firm Debevoise & Plimpton will be led by Mary Jo White, a former chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, CBS said.

A statement from CBS reporting on actions taken by the board did not mention Moonves by name.

Moonves released a statement Friday in response to allegations in The New Yorker, saying, "Throughout my time at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success elevating women to top executive positions across our company".

CBS declined to comment Tuesday.

The board also has created a special committee of board members to oversee the investigation.

There had been speculation that Moonves would step down as CEO until the investigation was complete. The allegations include complaints of forced kissing, unwanted sexual advances and career retaliation against women who rebuffed him.

Corporate governance experts said there could be several reasons why CBS's board may not want to fire Moonves, including its fiduciary duty to shareholders to minimize the company's legal liabilities. CBS fears that the head of National Amusements, Shari Redstone, will try to combine CBS and Viacom.

CBS is facing an industry roiled by consolidation.

Last quarter, CBS said CBS All Access and Showtime streaming services combined had 5.3 million subscriptions, on track to exceed CBS' goal of 8 million US subscriptions by 2020. Viacom shares, conversely, have risen 3 percent during that time on investor expectations that the chances of a merger with CBS have increased. The services continue to "gain momentum", Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger said in a note to clients.

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