CBS sets aside $120M for Moonves, but will he see it?

Ripon Bulletin - - Nation -

NEW YORK (AP) — CBS re­vealed Mon­day that it set aside $120 mil­lion in sev­er­ance for ousted chief ex­ec­u­tive Les­lie Moonves. But whether he sees a penny of it is one of the tough and po­ten­tially in­cen­di­ary de­ci­sions the net­work faces af­ter his res­ig­na­tion over sex­ual mis­con­duct ac­cu­sa­tions.

De­spite Moonves’ an­nounced exit Sun­day, out­side lawyers hired by CBS con­tinue to in­ves­ti­gate al­le­ga­tions against him and Jeff Fager, the top ex­ec­u­tive at “60 Min­utes.” In a reg­u­la­tory fil­ing with the Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Com­mis­sion, CBS said it will release the sev­er­ance money if the in­ves­ti­ga­tion finds there was no cause for him to be fired.

Any pay­ment to Moonves is likely to anger the #Me­Too move­ment that has brought down other pow­er­ful men in Hol­ly­wood and the me­dia, in­clud­ing Hol­ly­wood stu­dio boss Har­vey We­in­stein, NBC’s Matt Lauer and CBS’ Char­lie Rose.

Mean­while, Moonves’ wife, Julie Chen, did not ap­pear Mon­day on the sea­sonopen­ing episode of her day­time show, “The Talk,” and co-host Sharon Os­bourne said on the air that “ev­ery­one here at CBS is ner­vous about their jobs.” CBS’ stock price slid.

As head of tele­vi­sion’s most pop­u­lar net­work, Moonves was among the most pow­er­ful and rich­est ex­ec­u­tives in the TV in­dus­try, mak­ing a to­tal of nearly $140 mil­lion over the last two years.

His exit was an­nounced hours af­ter The New Yorker posted a de­tailed story al­leg­ing mis­con­duct. In two stories posted this sum­mer, a to­tal of 12 women have said they were mis­treated by the TV mogul, in­clud­ing forced oral sex, grop­ing and re­tal­i­a­tion if they re­sisted. Moonves has de­nied the charges, though he said he had con­sen­sual re­la­tions with some of the women.

The net­work’s chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer, Joseph Ian­niello, is tak­ing over as pres­i­dent and CEO un­til a re­shaped board of direc­tors can find a per­ma­nent re­place­ment, CBS said. David Nevins, chief ex­ec­u­tive at CBS’ Show­time net­work, was said to be a lead­ing can­di­date.

Some of the al­le­ga­tions pre­date Moonves’ work­ing at CBS, which he joined as en­ter­tain­ment pres­i­dent in 1995. A de­ter­mi­na­tion on whether there was cause for his fir­ing will fo­cus on whether he vi­o­lated any com­pany poli­cies while at CBS, said Dan Eaton, an em­ploy­ment lawyer and ex­pert on sev­er­ance is­sues as a pro­fes­sor at San Diego State Uni­ver­sity.

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