The Independent Directors of CBS have responded to reports of an upcoming story expected to allege misconduct on the part of CEO Les Moonves.
"All allegations of personal misconduct are to be taken seriously," said the statement issued around noon on Friday. "The Independent Directors of CBS have committed to investigating claims that violate the Company's clear policies in that regard. Upon the conclusion of that investigation, which involves recently reported allegations that go back several decades, the Board will promptly review the findings and take appropriate action."
Reports of the story in The New Yorker by Ronan Farrow surfaced late in the morning on Friday. CBS shares were down more than 6 percent Friday.
The story comes at a time when CBS is in a legal battle with Viacom. Shari Redstone is a major shareholder of both media companies, and has been seeking to combine them.
CBS owns the CBS TV network, cable network Showtime and the publisher Simon & Schuster. Viacom controls several major cable networks, including Comedy Central, MTV and BET, and movie studio Paramount.
Moonves, 68, has fought the merger.
"The timing of this report comes in the midst of the Company's very public legal dispute," the statement from the directors continued. "While that litigation process continues, the CBS management team has the full support of the independent board members. Along with that team, we will continue to focus on creating value for our shareowners."
Ms. Redstone issued a statement supporting an investigation into the allegations against Moonves and countering any claims that she played a role in the report: "The malicious insinuation that Ms. Redstone is somehow behind the allegations of inappropriate personal behavior by Mr. Moonves or today's reports is false and self-serving. Ms. Redstone hopes that the investigation of these allegations is thorough, open and transparent."
Last year, CBS fired Charlie Rose as co-anchor of CBS This Morning after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct were detailed in an investigation by the Washington Post. Subsequent reporting by the Washington Post raised questions about the response to those allegations by managers at CBS.
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