CBS Acting CEO Joe Ianniello Promises ‘Safe and Positive Working Environment’ in Post-Moonves Era

Ianniello, who has served as the company’s COO since 2013, takes over amid longtime CEO’s forced resignation

Last Updated: September 10, 2018 @ 4:04 PM

Les Moonves’ temporary successor, Joe Ianniello, sought to reassure CBS employees that the network is focused on creating a safe work environment, in a memo to staff Monday.

“And never has it been more important for us to make it abundantly clear that CBS has a steadfast commitment to diversity, inclusion and a safe and positive working environment,” Ianniello, CBS’ president and acting CEO, wrote in the letter, obtained by TheWrap. “This is an integral part of our growth plan as together we unlock the immense talents across our entire employee base.”

CBS and its controlling interest National Amusements, Inc. announced late on Sunday that Moonves would be leaving the organization after 15 years, following sexual misconduct accusations posed against him by multiple women.

Ianniello, who has served as the company’s COO since 2013, will take over as CBS’ president and acting CEO while the board searches for a permanent successor. The chairman position will remain open pending the appointment of a permanent CEO.

Additionally, CBS and National Amusements came to a settlement on pending litigation that was set to begin trial in Delaware next month. CBS and Moonves argued that Shari Redstone had shirked her duty to shareholders by pushing for a re-merger with Viacom, which CBS saw as potentially harmful to the value of the company.

That’s now on ice, as National Amusements has agreed to not propose CBS and Viacom recombine for at least two years. NAI has reaffirmed that it will give good faith consideration to any business combination transaction or other strategic alternative that the independent directors believe are in the best interests of the company and its stockholders.

Moonves’ exit comes two months after Ronan Farrow’s bombshell report in the New Yorker, in which six women accused the longtime media mogul of sexual harassment. On Sunday, a new report from Farrow in The New Yorker outlined accusations of sexual assault and harassment from six additional women.

Two investigations into the accusations are still underway, and any potential Moonves severance pay is pending the results.

Moovnes joined CBS Corporation from Warner Bros. in 1995, when he was named president of CBS Entertainment. He became chairman in 2003 and was named CEO in 2006, following the split of CBS and Viacom.

Read the memo in full below.

Today the Board of Directors named me as President and Acting Chief Executive Officer of CBS Corporation. I am honored to have this responsibility, and I’m excited to take on a greater role. I have been with this Company for 21 years, and I look forward to providing continuity and stability, while at the same time fostering our culture of innovation.

Today also marks a major transition for all of us as Leslie Moonves departs from CBS. Les’ departure occurs at a time when we are operating from a position of great strategic strength. As you all know, there is amazing work going on across the Company, and I feel confident we have the best people in the business to continue building on our outstanding success.

Led by CBS and SHOWTIME (and their fast-growing direct-to-consumer streaming services), as well as our major market television station group and Simon & Schuster, we also have many of the best assets in the industry.

The strength and evolution of all of these businesses has led us to where we are today – a global premium content powerhouse. Time and again, we have developed and executed strategies that capitalize on our unique and advantageous position, and what’s most exciting is that we are still in the early innings of that process.

At the heart of CBS’ ongoing success is its content, and it’s where our focus must remain. We now spend $7 billion a year on programming, which is on par with some of the largest companies in our industry. Looking ahead, as consumption continues to evolve, so will we. But content will always be at the core of our Company.

Of course, also at the core of any company is its culture. And never has it been more important for us to make it abundantly clear that CBS has a steadfast commitment to diversity, inclusion and a safe and positive working environment. This is an integral part of our growth plan as together we unlock the immense talents across our entire employee base.

Along those lines, I want to take a minute to appreciate all the fantastic work you have done these past several months, as we have continued to move our Company forward no matter the challenges. It is the people of this Corporation that make CBS what it is, and I am humbled to be leading this team. I also want to thank our remarkable Board of Directors for their immense efforts during this time, and welcome our new Board members as well. There is so much more to achieve ahead, and I thank everyone in advance for all you will do as we build on the great success of CBS.