US & Canada

Les Moonves: No immediate CBS action on harassment claims

Les Moonves (R) and his wife Julie Chen Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Les Moonves (R) and his wife Julie Chen, who is standing by him

CBS says it will take "no other action" than hiring an outside lawyer to look into allegations of sexual misconduct against its top executive Les Moonves.

The US television network's board said it would also reschedule its annual shareholders meeting, which was due for 10 August, to a later date.

The New Yorker published a report on Friday detailing claims of harassment by six women against Mr Moonves, 68.

He has overseen CBS's ratings rise to the most-watched network in the US.

The network said on Monday it was in the process of picking an outside counsel to lead an independent investigation into the matter.

"No other action was taken on this matter at today's board meeting," the company said.

Mr Moonves' wife, Julie Chen, steered clear of the issue on Monday during her daytime CBS chat show The Talk.

On Friday, she tweeted that her husband is a "kind, decent and moral human being" and she "fully supported" him.

The New Yorker magazine article detailed claims by six women who said Mr Moonves had sexually harassed them in incidents between 1985 and 2006.

One of the accusers, actress Illeana Douglas, alleged he violently kissed her. "You think, how long is this going to go on? I couldn't get him off me," she said.

All of the women say they believe their careers suffered because they rejected his advances.

A CBS statement on behalf of Mr Moonves last Friday said he acknowledged trying to kiss Ms Douglas, but denied sexual assault and intimidation.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption From left: Actor Bryan Cranston, host James Corden, LA Bafta CEO Chantal Rickards, and Mr Moonves

Mr Moonves, who is chairman and chief executive of CBS, told the New Yorker he regretted "immensely" having "made some women uncomfortable" in the past.

But he added that he had "never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone's career".

Mr Moonves is widely credited with reviving an ailing CBS with hits including CSI, Everybody Loves Raymond and The Big Bang Theory.

Mr Moonves joined the network in 1995 and earned $69.3m (£53m) last year, making him one of the highest paid chief executives in the world.

Earlier this year, CBS fired veteran presenter Charlie Rose, who was accused of sexual harassment by a number of women, including several CBS employees.