CBS’ Board of Directors is expected to meet Monday and discuss, among other things, the accusations against CEO Les Moonves that emerged in a Friday exposé published by the New Yorker in which six women accused the media mogul of sexual misconduct. Even if CBS elects to cut ties with Moonves, the exec may be looking at a sizeable pay day.
His contract as CBS’ CEO was extended in 2014 through 2019 after which he was slated to remain in an advisory role for an additional five years. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Moonves earned $69.6 million in 2016.
The New York Times reported in 2014, “Mr. Moonves’s previous contract also stipulated that he receive a total package of about $295 million should he be terminated for good reason or without cause. The new contract is expected to include similar terms.”
Multi-million-dollar contracts like Moonves' often include morality clauses to protect the company from having to pay out large sums should the contracted individual be fired for misbehavior. It's not clear whether or not Moonves' contact contains such a clause.
Moonves joined CBS in 1995 and became CEO following the split from Viacom in 2006. Viacom and CBS are seemingly moving toward a merger once again, and a January report stated Shari Redstone, who runs both companies, was apparently trying to move the companies forward sans Moonves. Media experts have speculated the accusations against Moonves could push CBS to merge with Viacom.
According to The Wrap, Moonves’ contract includes a golden parachute that is estimated to be anywhere between $181 million and $315 million.
In 2006, Moonves was described by The Guardian as residing in an all-powerful “cavernous corner office” on the 35th floor of CBS’ headquarters.
His 14 years at the company has not been without controversy. Back in 2005, Moonves made headlines for some questionable comments he made about the future of “CBS Evening News.”
The New York Times reported the executive said, "On the one hand, we could have a newscast like 'The Big Breakfast' in England, where women give the news in lingerie. Or there's 'Naked News,' which is on cable in England. I saw a clip of it. It's a woman giving the news as she's getting undressed. And then, on the other hand, you could have two boring people behind a desk. Our newscast has to be somewhere in between."
Also while discussing the future of news, he said he would find the right formula and added, “It's like pornography -- I'll know it when I see it.”
The Bucknell University graduate said back in ’05 that Americans did not like to hear dark, disturbing stories.
“Americans do not like dark,” he said. “I understand why creative people like dark, but American audiences don't like dark. They like story. They do not respond to nervous breakdowns and unhappy episodes that lead nowhere. They like their characters to be a part of the action. They like strength, not weakness, a chance to work out any dilemma. This is a country built on optimism.''
CBS stated Friday independent members of its board of directors are "investigating claims that violate the company's clear policies" regarding personal misconduct.
Moonves acknowledged in a statement that there were times decades ago when he may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. He stated, "Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely."
He said that he never misused his position to harm or hinder anyone's career.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.