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The TV industry was rocked by allegations all over again back in July when CBS CEO Les Moonves was accused of sexual misconduct. In a year that saw a number of singificant people in TV accused, investigated, and sometimes ousted, the accusations against Moonves were still a very big deal. CBS swiftly announced an investigation into the allegations, and the network is now reportedly looking to push Moonves out, and his exit could cost a lot of money.
Les Moonves and advisors have reportedly received exit offers that range from $100 to $125 million from the independent board members at CBS. Those numbers represent a massive amount of money for Moonves, but they're not altogether surprising. As a veteran of the TV industry and head of a broadcast network that is home to some of television's most popular shows, Moonves had a severance deal that entitled him to a whole lot of money. If fired without cause, Moonves would have received $180 million, with the sum comprised of his salary, $65 million in stock, and a bonus.
The $100 to $125 million range for the offers indicates that the board does not believe Les Moonves' firing would be without cause. SEC filings reveal that Moonves' package entitled him to $115 million in salary and bonus if his exit was due to termination "with good reason." The fact that a number has not yet been settled is proof that Moonves' exit won't be as simple as either his $180 million severance of termination without cause or the $115 million severance for termination with cause. With this much money at stake, the odds are that all parties involved will want to work out all the details before committing.
Compared to how much Les Moonves will likely walk away with once he leaves CBS, Bill O'Reilly's payday for leaving Fox News seems almost insignificant! Deadline reports that a change in CBS' corporate structure may be happening as well as the ousting of Les Moonves. CBS and top shareholder National Amusements are reportedly seeking an "all-encompassing settlement" that would bring new people in and send some people out of the board. A permanent replacement CEO has evidently not been selected, with CBS' Chief Operating Officer Joseph Ianniello stepping in as an interim head honcho. A deal may be completed as soon as September 7, but some parties may need to bend for that to happen.
The allegations against Les Moonves stem from a report back in July stating that six woman alleged sexual harassment by Moonves in the span of years between the 1980s and the 200s. The allegations claim that Moonves would touch or kiss women against their will, and would blacklist them in their careers if they refused his advances. The original report cited 30 former and current CBS employees, and it's not surprising that CBS launched a swift investigation despite Moonves' statement in response to the allegations.