CBS Corp. (CBS) - Get CBS Corporation Class B Report shares are likely to be active again Monday amid multiple media reports that its board will meet to discuss the allegations of inappropriate behaviour made against CEO Leslie Moonves just days ahead of the group's second quarter earnings and an ongoing battle for control of the broadcaster.
Moonves, 69, was accused of making unwanted advances towards six women over period of 20 years starting in 1985 in an article published by the New Yorker magazine last Friday, allegations that the long-serving CEO said he regrets "immensely" even as he insisted he never abused his position. CBS said last week it would investigate the reports, which included allegations of harassment and gender discrimination by company executives from at least 30 other women but said the "picture of our Company created in The New Yorker represents a larger organization that does its best to treat its tens of thousands of employees with dignity and respect."
"I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances", Moonves said. "Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely," Moonves said. "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."
"This is a time when we all are appropriately focused on how we help improve our society, and we at CBS are committed to being part of the solution," he added.
CBS shares were marked 1.31% lower in pre-market trading Monday, indicating an opening bell price of $53.30 each, after having fallen more than 6.1% Friday as news of the New Yorker story first surfaced on Twitter and Moonves issued his statement later in the day.
The allegations paint a troubling picture of the corporate culture in another major media company, following similar revelations at 21 Century Fox (FOXA) - Get Fox Corporation Report , which ultimately led to the departure of Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, and charges filed by New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance linked to more than 70 allegations of predatory behaviour -- including sexual assault and rape -- against Miramax studios co-founder of Harvey Weinstein.
But the story also comes amid a power struggle for CBS that has pitted Moonves against the company's largest shareholder, National Amusements Inc. and its controlling owners Shari Redstone and her father Sumner, both of which are pushing for a merger with Viacom Inc. VIAB, another media group that is majority-controlled by the Redstone family. Shari Redstone sits on the CBS board, along with National Amusements director David Andelman.