It’s been a rocky few months for CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS). The company has been fighting with controlling shareholder National Amusements, which has been trying to merge with CBS. Then last week sexual harassment charges were alleged against CBS CEO and Chairman Les Moonves by six women.
The entertainment giant rescheduled its planned April 18 annual general meeting for August 10 after it filed suit against National Amusements to prevent changes that would have smoothed the controlling shareholder’s path to merging with CBS. On Monday, that August 10 meeting was canceled and no new date has been set.
The charges against Moonves were detailed in an article in the current issue of The New Yorker. The executive is alleged to have attempted to kiss or touch four women during business meetings and of physically intimidating or threatening the careers of two others. Some of the alleged incidents took place 20 years or more ago.
In a statement issued Friday, Moonves said that “decades ago” he may have made some women “uncomfortable by making advances.” Those were “mistakes” and he “regret[s] 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 on Monday announced that the board is “in the process” of choosing outside counsel to investigate the charges against Moonves, but that no other action will be taken at this time.
While the charges against Moonves do not reach the level of those that brought down movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, it does seem that the CBS board is taking a “wait and see” approach to the charges. Surely the board could have demonstrated a firmer commitment against harassment by taking some action against Moonves other than just allowing him to continue as if nothing has happened.
CBS’s board includes 13 directors in addition to Moonves, who has been CEO since 2006 and the board chair since February 2016. Here’s a brief look at the other 13.
Shari Redstone, 63, is non-executive vice-chair of CBS and, along with her father, Sumner Redstone, the owner of National Amusements. She is also the non-executive vice-chair of Viacom, another Redstone-controlled entertainment company. She received $307,571 in total compensation from CBS in 2017.
Richard D. Parsons, 70, is former chair of Time-Warner (2003 to 2008) and was CEO of Time Warner from 2002 to 2007. Parsons is not currently a member of the board, but was slated for addition at the next general meeting.
Doug Morris, 79, has been CEO of Sony Music since July 2011 and chair since April 2017. He received $332,143 in total compensation from CBS in 2017.
Matha L. Minow, 63, is Carter Professor of General Jurisprudence at Harvard Law School and a Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor. She received $210,688 in total compensation from CBS in 2017.
Robert N. Klieger, 46, is a partner in a Los Angeles law firm and his practice focuses on civil litigation and counseling in the areas of entertainment and intellectual property. Klieger was elected to the board in July 2017. He received $150,468 in total compensation from CBS in 2017. He is replacing Arnold Kopelson who is not seeking reelection and who received $300,038 in total compensation last year.
Linda M. Griego, 70, has held a number of government positions, including Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles. She received $329,526 in total compensation from CBS in 2017.
Bruce S. Gordon, 72, was president and CEO of the NAACP from August 2005 to March 2007 and a former executive with Verizon Communications. He received $352,113 in total compensation from CBS in 2017.
Leonard Goldberg, 84, is president of independent television and film production companies Mandy Films and Panda Productions. He received $307,526 in total compensation from CBS in 2017.
Charles K. Gifford, 75, has been chair emeritus of Bank of America since 2005. He received $399,649 in total compensation from CBS in 2017.
Gary L. Countryman, 78, has been chair emeritus of insurance firm Liberty Mutual since 2000. He received $371,306 in total compensation from CBS in 2017.
William S. Cohen, 77, was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1973 to 1979 and a U.S. Senator from 1979 to 1997. He received $332,275 in total compensation from CBS in 2017.
Joseph A. Califano Jr., 86, was Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare from 1977 to 1979. He received $370,906 in total compensation from CBS in 2017.
David R. Andelman, 78, is also a director of National Amusements and a senior partner associated with the Boston law firm of Lourie & Cutler since 1964. He received $307,624 in total compensation from CBS in 2017.
CBS shareholders paid more than $4 million last year to 13 board members. Have those shareholders received sufficient value for their money?