New York, July 28 (AP/UNB) — CBS said Friday it is investigating personal misconduct claims after the company's chief executive, Les Moonves, was the subject of a New Yorker story detailing sexual misconduct allegations.
The media company said independent members of its board of directors are "investigating claims that violate the company's clear policies" regarding personal misconduct.
CBS Corp.'s stock fell 6 percent — its worst one-day loss in nearly seven years — as the reports of the misconduct allegations began to circulate around noon Friday, triggering investor concerns Moonves might be forced to step down. The CBS chief has been a towering figure in television for decades, credited with turning around a network that had been mired for years at the bottom ratings.
The New York-based company did not mention Moonves by name but said it issued a statement in response to the New Yorker article, which was published on the magazine's website late Friday. The article was written by Ronan Farrow, who wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning story last year for the same magazine uncovering many of the allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein
The article says six women who had professional dealings with Moonves say he sexually harassed them between the 1980s and late 2000s. Four of the women described forcible touching or kissing during business meetings, it says, while two said that Moonves physically intimidated them or threatened to derail their careers.
Among the women quoted in the article were the actress Illeana Douglas, writer Janet Jones and producer Christine Peters. Farrow told The Associated Press that all the women quoted in the article had to overcome "a lot of fear of retaliation to tell very serious stories of sexual misconduct about Les Moonves."
Moonves acknowledged in a statement that there were times decades ago when he may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. But he says, "Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely."
He said that he never misused his position to harm or hinder anyone's career.
The New Yorker article also said a culture of misconduct extended from Moonves to other parts of the corporation, including CBS News. It said men in that division who were accused of sexual misconduct were promoted, even as the company paid settlements to women with complaints.
CBS said that once the investigation by its independent board members is completed, the full corporate board will review the findings and "take appropriate action."
It took issue in a statement with the New Yorker article, however, for not accurately representing "a larger organization that does its best to treat its tens of thousands of employees with dignity and respect."
Mooves is the latest media giant to become embroiled in sexual misconduct allegations since the downfall of Weinstein in October triggered the #metoo social media movement.
In November, CBS fired veteran news host Charlie Rose over allegations he had groped women, walked naked in front of them and made lewd phone calls. Rose has apologized for his behavior but questioned the accuracy of some of the claims.
In December, Moonves joined a meeting of chief executives of nearly every major Hollywood studio, TV network and record label to establish a commission to comb sexual misconduct in the industry. They agreed to fund the Commission On Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, and chose Anita Hill to chair it.
The allegations come as CBS is in the middle of a legal battle with its controlling shareholder, National Amusements, which has been pushing for a merger with Viacom, also controlled by National Amusements.
CBS and Viacom were once part of the same company, known as Viacom, but were split in 2005 into separate entities, both controlled by Sumner Redstone. His daughter, Shari Redstone, has been pushing to reunite the companies under one corporate umbrella. Moonves has been opposed to the deal.
CBS said its current "management team has the full support of the independent board members" in the ongoing litigation involving National Amusements. The legal case is being played out in Delaware court.
National Amusements jumped into the controversy with a statement denying what it called "the malicious insinuation that Ms. Redstone is somehow behind the allegations of inappropriate personal behavior by Mr. Moonves or today's reports."
"Ms. Redstone hopes that the investigation of these allegations is thorough, open and transparent," the company said.
Moonves, one of the most powerful executives in media, has led CBS for two decades, including the 12 years since it split from Viacom.
He revived the company, which operates the CBS network, Showtime and other entities, with hit shows like "NCIS" and "The Big Bang Theory."
He also introduced separate streaming CBS and Showtime services as more people "cut the cord" and watch TV online. The network consistently tops in prime-time ratings.
While CBS's stock took a hit, Viacom's rose sharply as investors anticipated that a combination of CBS and Viacom could become more likely should Moonves be forced out. Viacom closed up 4.6 percent.
Moonves was the No. 2 highest paid CEO of a major public company in 2017, according to an analysis by The Associated Press and Equilar, an executive data firm. He made $68.4 million last year, behind only chip maker Broadcom's CEO.
Before joining CBS, he was president of Warner Bros. Television, where he oversaw the development of hit TV shows "Friends" and "ER."
Moonves, who is married to TV personality and CBS producer Julie Chen, was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 2013. He also won the Milestone Award from the Producers Guild of America that year.
Bangkok, Jul 16 (AP/UNB) — Shares edged lower in Asia early Monday after China reported lackluster growth data in line with expectations. Geopolitical and trade tensions were weighing on sentiment despite gains last week on Wall Street.
KEEPING SCORE: The Shanghai Composite index lost 0.4 percent to 2,820.52 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng edged less than 0.1 percent lower to 28,486.70. The Kospi in South Korea fell 0.2 percent to 2,307.06 and Australia's S&P ASX 200 gave up 0.3 percent to 6,246.80. Shares fell in Southeast Asia and Taiwan. Japan's market was closed for a holiday.
WALL STREET LAST WEEK: Stocks wrapped up another solid week Friday as industrial and energy companies ticked higher. Corporate earnings from several major U.S. banks failed to excite investors, while consumer-focused companies like Amazon set record highs. The S&P 500 index edged up 0.1 percent to 2,801.31. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.4 percent to 25,019.41. The Nasdaq composite set another record, just barely, as it ticked up 2.06 points to 7,825.98, and The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 0.2 percent to 1,687.08.
CHINA ECONOMY GROWS: China's economic growth slowed in the quarter ending in June, adding to challenges for Beijing amid a mounting tariff battle with Washington. The world's second-largest economy expanded by 6.7 percent, down from the previous quarter's 6.8 percent, the government reported Monday. Even before the dispute with Washington erupted, forecasters expected growth to cool after Beijing started tightening controls on bank lending last year to rein in surging debt.
ANALYST VIEWPOINT: "The upshot is that the statistics bureau is now starting to more publicly acknowledge that the economy is losing steam. This should make it easier for officials to justify shifting to a more supportive policy stance," Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a commentary. "The People's Bank has already been nudging down market interest rates since the beginning of the year but is likely to take the more high-profile step of cutting benchmark lending rates in the coming months."
EU-CHINA TRADE: European Council President Donald Tusk, while on a visit to Beijing, urged President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and China to work with Europe to avoid trade wars and prevent conflict and chaos. Tusk was speaking at the opening of a summit between China and the European Union, just hours ahead of a summit between Trump and Putin in Helsinki. Tusk said Europe, China, the U.S. and Russia had a "common duty" not to destroy the global order but to improve it by reforming international trade rules.
CURRENCY: The dollar rose to 112.47 yen from 112.39 yen late Friday while the euro edged lower to $1.1684 from $1.1688.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose fell 36 cents to $70.65 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 1 percent on Friday to $71.01 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 40 cents to $74.93 per barrel.
Qingdao, Jun 10 (AP/UNB) — Chinese President Xi Jinping extolled free trade and criticized "selfish, short-sighted" policies during a closely orchestrated gathering of a Beijing-led bloc Sunday, standing in stark contrast with the G-7 summit that ended in disarray over trade tensions.
"We should reject selfish, short-sighted, narrow and closed-off policies. We must maintain the rules of the World Trade Organization, support the multilateral trade system and build an open global economy," Xi said. Though his remarks did not mention President Donald Trump, Beijing has sought to portray itself as a defender of free trade in response to the American leader's support for import controls. This is despite China's status as the most-closed major economy.
Xi also hailed the entry of new members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, calling the presence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain "of great historic significance" in opening remarks at this weekend's summit of in the northern Chinese port of Qingdao. Their two South Asian nations joined the bloc as full members last year.
With tight security, closed roads and restricted press access, the summit's choreographed show of unity was a striking contrast to the tumultuous Group of Seven summit of leading industrialized nations that concluded Saturday in Quebec and saw the U.S. and its allies divided by escalating trade tensions.
Trump lashed out at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in an extraordinary set of tweets from Air Force One, calling him "dishonest & weak" and retracting the U.S. endorsement of the G-7 summit's communique.
The Beijing-led bloc, which experts see as seeking to challenge the Western-led order, is dominated by China and Russia and also includes Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Founded in 2001, it was originally conceived as a vehicle for resolving border issues, fighting terrorism, and — more implicitly — to counter American influence in Central Asia following its invasion of Afghanistan.
The summit comes as Russia and China have boosted ties in response to the U.S. national security strategy that describes them as America's top adversaries.
"We should reject the Cold War mentality and confrontation between blocks," Xi said, adding that the countries should "oppose the practices of seeking absolute security of oneself at the expense of the security of other countries."
In recent years, the Shanghai bloc's economic component has grown more prominent, embodied in Xi's signature, trillion-dollar foreign policy and infrastructure drive known as the Belt and Road Initiative.
Xi announced that China would offer 30 billion yuan ($4.7 billion) in loans through the bloc, highlighting its economic aspect.
Beijing's infrastructure projects in Central Asia make some in the bloc uncomfortable — particularly India, which alone among members has refused to endorse the program. Russia, too, is wary of China's expanding influence, and though it has somewhat reluctantly embraced the Belt and Road, it is also seeking to expand its own economic and political leverage in the region through a customs union it dominates known as the Eurasian Economic Union.
China has sought to downplay concerns that the Shanghai grouping is a way for Beijing to project its strategic influence abroad. The Global Times, a Communist Party newspaper, said Sunday in a commentary that unlike Western organizations like NATO and the G-7, which seek to "consolidate the global economic order that is favorable to the Western world," the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is inclusive.
It is "is not a tool for geopolitical games, seeking hegemony or engaging in international confrontation," the paper said.
As trade tensions simmered between China and the U.S. in recent months, Beijing has drawn closer to Moscow and New Delhi.
On Friday, Xi presented Russian President Vladimir Putin China's first Friendship Medal at an elaborate ceremony in Beijing.
On Saturday, Xi met Modi for the second time in two months, signing deals on the export of non-basmati rice and sharing information on the waters of the Brahmaputra River, which runs between China and India, according to tweets by spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs Raveesh Kumar.
Xi and Modi also found common ground on security. On Sunday, Xi urged closer cooperation on joint counterterrorism exercises and law enforcement, while Modi called security "our top priority" and said India would play "an active and constructive role" in the bloc to work against extremism in Afghanistan.
Beijing sees the bloc as a force for stability in a poor, unstable neighborhood bordering on its volatile region of Xinjiang, where attacks in recent years by radicals among its native Muslim population killed hundreds and prompted a massive security crackdown, while New Delhi is interested in striking Islamic militant groups targeting India