CBS Suspends Search for Permanent CEO

CBS said it has suspended its search for a permanent CEO, instead extending the contract of its acting CEO -- long-time executive Joseph Ianniello -- for another year.

CBS said it would extend Ianniello’s contract for an additional six months, until Dec. 31. Ianniello, who joined CBS in 1997, was named chief operating officer in 2013 and served in that role until September, when the company tapped him to take over while it searched for a replacement for chairman and CEO Les Moonves, who was terminated in the middle of a sexual harassment scandal. 

In a press release, CBS said that the extension is a testament to Ianniello’s achievements.

“Joe has demonstrated exceptional leadership during this time of unprecedented transition at CBS,” the broadcaster’s board of directors said in a press release. “He steadied the ship with some key appointments and a commitment to cultural change, and steered it forward by focusing CBS’ operations around its growing direct-to-consumer strategy. We are very pleased to recognize Joe’s talents and efforts with this extension, and we look forward to all that he’ll continue to do to build on CBS’ remarkable momentum.”

The decision to hold off the search for a CEO comes as speculation that CBS could be more open to recombining with its former corporate sister Viacom. While CBS had resisted a combination in the past, and the top shareholder of both companies, National Amusements Inc., agreed not to push for a merger for two years, the changing programming landscape may have changed CBS’s stance. Viacom CEO Bob Bakish, a favorite of NAI chief and CBS and Viacom vice chair Shari Redstone, has been said to have an edge for the top spot should a merger come to be.