By Amanda Weston
As CBS's embattled chief executive Les Moonves faces an uncertain future amid allegations of sexual misconduct, the prospects of a merger between his television network and Viacom may improve, said Tim Baysinger, a reporter for The Wrap.
"If the end result of this is that Moonves is out, then it immediately puts the CBS-Viacom merger back on the table," Baysinger said in an interview Tuesday with Cheddar. "Or if CBS appears weak enough, if their stock price starts dipping even more, it makes CBS itself a potential takeover target."
CBS's board of directors decided Monday to keep Moonves as CEO while an outside counsel conducts an "independent investigation" of allegations by six former female employees that Moonves coercively touched or kissed them and intimidated them with physical force.
The allegations against Moonves coincide with a legal battle between CBS and National Amusements, which controls the network's former parent company Viacom. Controlling shareholder Shari Redstone has been trying to merge CBS and Viacom, a move Moonves opposes.
Baysinger said the scandal may work in Redstone's favor if the allegations against Moonves erode his opposition, weaken his influence, or further hurt the network's stock price.
In the New Yorker article, writer Ronan Farrow said that Moonves's accusers are uninterested in corporate politics and came forward before the scuffle with Redstone over the Viacom merger.
In a statement, Moonves admitted fault, but also said that CBS has generally "promoted a culture of respect."
"I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances," he said. "Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely. But I always understood and respected—and abided by the principle—that ‘no’ means ‘no,’ and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career."
CBS's board Monday said it was looking to hire an independent counsel to oversee the investigation into the allegations but that "no other action was taken on this matter."
Baysinger noted the company didn't expressly say Moonves is staying on, so the board can still take action.
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