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Joe Ianniello Gets 6-Month Extension as CBS President as Company Suspends Search for CEO

Ianniello took over after Leslie Moonves stepped down in September

CBS has extended Joe Ianniello’s tenure as president and acting CEO for an additional six months, the company said on Tuesday. In addition, CBS’ Board of Directors determined it would suspend its search for another Chief Executive Officer.

The extension takes Ianniello through the rest of 2019.

“Joe has demonstrated exceptional leadership during this time of unprecedented transition at CBS,” the network’s Board of Directors said in a statement. “He steadied the ship with some key appointments and a commitment to cultural change, and steered it forward by focusing CBS’ operations around its growing direct-to-consumer strategy. We are very pleased to recognize Joe’s talents and efforts with this extension, and we look forward to all that he’ll continue to do to build on CBS’ remarkable momentum.”

Ianniello — who had served as the company’s COO since 2013 — took over as president and acting CEO last September following theĀ resignation of former CBS CEO Leslie Moonves after multiple sexual misconduct accusations against him.

The delay in finding a permanent successor to Moonves will likely throw fuel onto the fire that CBS and its former sister company Viacom could be headed for a merger, which has been rumored for the past few years.

Since the idea of a merger began gaining traction in 2016, Moonves all but launched a corporate and legal siege to block any attempts to combine the two companies by Shari’s Redstone’s National Amusements Inc., the privately held family firm that controls roughly 80% of the voting power in both companies (which had split into separate companies in 2005).

But analysts have previously told TheWrap that now that Moonves is out of the picture, the biggest obstacle is gone.

As part of Moonves’ ouster last September and the settlement of lawsuits over corporate governance with the CBS board of directors, National Amusements agreed that it would not pursue a merger for two years. However, CBS can still seek a merger if two-thirds of the board members who aren’t affiliated with National Amusements request it.