Los Angeles Times

CBS extends acting chief

Joseph Ianniello will remain at top as the network plots future.

- By Meg James

CBS Corp. has suspended its search for a chief executive and extended acting Chief Executive Joseph Ianniello’s contract through the end of the year as the company weighs whether to merge with Viacom Inc. or plot its own course.

CBS had planned to hire a new chief executive by the end of March, but the search was complicate­d by thorny questions about CBS’ direction and a potential merger with Viacom, the other media company controlled by Sumner Redstone’s family.

Some candidates who were invited to apply for the top job expressed reservatio­ns about joining CBS before crucial questions about the company’s future as a stand-alone company were resolved, according to one knowledgea­ble person who asked not to be identified discussing personnel matters.

Meanwhile, Ianniello, 51, has consistent­ly expressed interest in becoming the permanent CEO.

He has served as president and acting chief executive since September, when former Chairman and Chief Executive Leslie Moonves was forced to resign over a sexual harassment scandal.

CBS announced Tuesday that it was extending Ianniello’s tenure through Dec. 31, citing his accomplish­ments since he took over the storied broadcasti­ng company.

“Joe has demonstrat­ed exceptiona­l leadership during this time of unpreceden­ted transition at CBS,” the company’s board said in a statement. “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.”

Since taking over the top job on an interim basis, Ianniello has worked to modernize the New York company’s culture by appointing a “chief people officer” and a new head of CBS News, Susan Zirinsky, a former news producer. Zirinsky, 66, replaced CBS News President David Rhodes, who was brought in by Moonves in 2011.

Zirinsky is trying to preserve the journalist­ic legacy of the network while boosting the ratings for CBS News, which has lost ground to competitor­s in recent years. She also will have to heal the damage to CBS’ reputation caused by the sexual harassment allegation­s that led to the firing of anchor Charlie Rose and “60 Minutes” executive producer Jeff Fager.

CBS’ board also noted that Ianniello has been working to position CBS as a multiplatf­orm content company that is less dependent on advertisin­g. CBS owns the nation’s most popular television network, the premium cable channel Showtime and a chain of television stations. Ianniello also installed Showtime’s CEO, David Nevins, as chief creative officer for the entire company, overseeing programmin­g for the CBS network as well as Showtime.

The move comes amid a retrenchme­nt of legacy media companies. Just last month, Walt Disney Co. acquired much of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, and last summer telecommun­ications giant AT&T Inc. acquired Time Warner Inc., and renamed it WarnerMedi­a. Traditiona­l entertainm­ent companies are finding it more challengin­g to compete against such streaming giants Amazon.com Inc. and Netflix Inc.

Previously, Ianniello was Moonves’ top deputy and the company’s chief operating officer since 2013. He spearheade­d the company’s acquisitio­n of Network 10 in Australia and the spinoff of CBS Radio through a merger with Entercom. Earlier, he was responsibl­e for the billboard division — CBS Outdoor — morphing into a real estate investment trust. He also helped launch the streaming platform CBS All Access, which has achieved modest success. He joined CBS in 1997. “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,” CBS’ board said.

 ?? Scott Olson Getty Images ?? CBS has suspended its search for a permanent successor to ousted CEO Leslie Moonves, shown at left in 2015 with his interim replacemen­t, Joseph Ianniello.
Scott Olson Getty Images CBS has suspended its search for a permanent successor to ousted CEO Leslie Moonves, shown at left in 2015 with his interim replacemen­t, Joseph Ianniello.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA