CBS Board Hires Law Firms to Investigate Moonves

The CBS board of directors has hired two law firms to investigate charges of inappropriate sexual conduct by CEO Les Moonves.

The board, which met again Wednesday (Aug. 1), said it selected Covington & Burling and Debevoise & Plimpton to “conduct a full investigation of the allegations in recent press reports” about Moonves.

The firms will also investigate allegations made about CBS News and what the board called “cultural issues at all levels of CBS.”

In an article in The New Yorker, six women were quoted charging Moonves with sexual harassment over the course of his career. The alleged incidents took place from 1985, before he was at CBS, through 2006.

The charges come at a time when Moonves and CBS are battling the family of media mogul Sumner Redstone for control of the company.

In its statement announcing that it hired the law firms to conduct the investigation, the board said that it is taking the allegations seriously “and is committed to acting in the best interest of the company and all of its shareholders.” It added that it was confident that the employees of CBS will continue to perform at a high level as the process unfolds.

The board said it has formed a special committee -- Bruce Gordon, Linda Griego and Robert Klieger -- to facilitate the investigation. Moonves will have no role in the investigation and is entirely recused from it.

The board also appointed Gordon as lead independent director.

The board took no further action "pending discussion with counsel as to appropriate next steps" against Moonves, who continues to lead the company.

“Neither the board nor the company expects to comment further on this matter at this time,” the board said in its statement.

CBS reports its quarterly earnings Thursday afternoon (Aug. 2) and some reports indicated that Moonves was expected to take part in the call.

CBS stock closed Wednesday at $52.55, down 0.23%.

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.