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CBS Part Ways With Chief Executive Les Moonves After Sexual Harassment Claims

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Sep. 10 2018, Updated 12:10 p.m. ET

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Les Moonves has parted ways with the CBS Corporation.

The Network released a statement today:

It read in part: Concurrently with the settlement, Leslie Moonves will depart as Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer effective immediately. Chief Operating Officer Joseph Ianniello will serve as President and Acting CEO while the Board conducts a search for a permanent successor. Mr. Ianniello, who joined the Company in 2005, has been COO of CBS since June 2013. The Chairman position will remain open pending the appointment of a permanent CEO.

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Moonves and CBS will donate $20 million to one or more organizations that support the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace. The donation, which will be made immediately, has been deducted from any severance benefits that may be due Moonves following the Board's ongoing independent investigation led by Covington & Burling and Debevoise & Plimpton. Moonves will not receive any severance benefits at this time (other than certain fully accrued and vested compensation and benefits); any payments to be made in the future will depend upon the results of the independent investigation and subsequent Board evaluation.

The Chief Executive had been plagued by allegations of sexual harassment in recent times after six women came forward in the New Yorker earlier this year.

CBS' board of directors has been working on a package to release him of his duties this weekend.

Moonves, who is married to Julie Chen, has led the company for the past 15 years and has successfully managed the television division.

However, despite having many supporters the backlash from the allegations has proved too much.

Les Moonves
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Mr. Moonves has also been involved in a protracted legal fight with the company's controlling shareholder, Shari Redstone.

The talks have included a potential payout that, while much less than the $184 million promised by his employment agreement, could still be as high as $100 million.

Given the circumstances the size of the pay out has caused a lot of friction inside CBS.

Joseph Ianniello, the chief operating officer of CBS and one of Moonves's advisers, has been named the interim chief executive.

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