By Bridgette Webb
CBS's board of directors decided Monday to keep Leslie Moonves on as Chairman and CEO, even as the company looks into sexual misconduct allegations against him.
The company also postponed an annual shareholder meeting that had already been rescheduled for August 10 and said it would seek outside legal counsel to oversee an independent investigation.
Wall Street Journal reporter Keach Hagey, who wrote a book about battle for power at CBS, said the probe would be 'top-to-bottom', examining not only Moonves's conduct, but also the broader company culture.
"Half of that Ronan Farrow article was about '60 Minutes', Jeff Fager, the way that sexual harassment claims were handled,” Hagey said before the board's decision. "This is also part of a thematic complaints that Shari Redstone has had against the board. She claimed that a board member grabbed her face."
Shares of CBS have fallen more than 10 percent since a New Yorker exposé published Friday detailed claims of harassment by six women who worked with Moonves between 1985 and 2006.
The scandal coincides with a battle between Moonves and vice chairman Shari Redstone, whose National Amusements is the largest shareholder in CBS. Redstone is trying to recombine the company with Viacom, which she also controlsーa move Moonves sharply opposes.
It was not clear after Monday's meeting whether Moonves would stay on throughout the entire investigation or if the board is still discussing his removal.
“If Les Moonves does step aside, it would increase the chances that CBS and Viacom would merge,” Hagey said.
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