CBS Corporation is the parent company of the CBS TV network and various other assets spun out of media giant Viacom in 2006, undoing a mammoth merger engineered seven years earlier. In addition to CBS and its collection of regional TV stations, it includes cable channels Showtime and The Movie Channel, a half share in micro-network The CW, and the book publisher Simon & Schuster. In 2018, the group made an unexpected push into Australia with a deal to acquire struggling local channel Network Ten. Several other assets have been sold, including the group's once-extensive outdoor network, carved up and sold off in 2014. The 2006 separation from Viacom couldn't have come at a better time for CBS. Although the network's past performance had traditionally lagged well behind Viacom's cable networks, the new group was far more concentrated, positioned as an old-style US media group with a strong presence in broadcast, radio and outdoor media. Expectations that it would prove the less exciting of the two businesses were overturned when it demonstrated an unexpected return to form, overtaking traditional champion NBC, to become the country's most watched network. Shows including such as The Big Bang Theory, NCIS, Blue Bloods and 60 Minutes have made CBS the most watched network in the US every year since 2008. A reunion with Viacom was briefly explored in 2016 but abandoned. In 2017, Shari Redstone, controlling shareholder of both CBS and Viacom through family holding company National Amusements, began pushing once again for the two companies to be re-combined. That prompted an aggressive pushback by CBS, led by long-time CEO Les Moonves. He successfully resisted Redstone's demands, but not before accusations of sexual harassment by him of female colleagues surfaced, leading to his dismissal in Sept 2018. Joseph Ianniello, formerly EVP & COO, replaced him as interim CEO. Group revenues for ye 2018 hit an all-time high of $13.7bn. The main CBS TV broadcast and production business is the biggest by far within the group, accounting for around two-thirds of group revenues.
Capsule checked 19th October 2018
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Historical profile information for CBS Corporation
Adbrands Daily Update 13th Mar 2019: CBS added to its cable portfolio by buying out Lionsgate from their 50/50 cable joint venture Pop. The channel mostly runs repeats of sitcoms and the occasional drama, but has gained a wider following with the original series 'Schitt's Creek', something of a cult hit, and 'Flack'. Though available in around 70m homes in the US, Pop's audience is still small, only around 150,000 prime-time viewers.
Adbrands Daily Update 4th Feb 2019: After its big build-up, Super Bowl LIII on CBS turned out to be something of a damp squib. A dull game with few touchdowns and no excitement resulted in the lowest audience for a Super Bowl for a decade. Even the PR team for Mercedes-Benz, in whose stadium the game was held, tweeted mid-telecast "If this game weren't in my stadium, I would have driven away by now." That message was quickly deleted but not before it had been retweeted hundreds of times. Nielsen said an average of 100.7m viewers tuned in on broadcast or digital channels, the smallest audience since 2009. The city of New Orleans boycotted the game altogether in protest over referees' decisions in an earlier game that caused their team to be eliminated from the final. Unconfirmed reports suggested that other viewers refused to watch in support of former player Colin Kaepernick, who has himself been boycotted by the NFL over his National Anthem protests.
Adbrands Daily Update 17th Jan 2019: Ousted CBS CEO Leslie Moonves is seeking arbitration over the company's decision to withhold an agreed severance package worth as much as $120m. The media group says Moonves' forfeited the payoff because he violated company policies, breached his employment contract and intentionally failed to cooperate with the investigation into his behaviour. He has been accused by several women of sexual harassment.
Adbrands Weekly Update 20th Sep 2018: After apparently riding out a first set of allegations of sexual misconduct, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves lost the support of his board after a second set of accusations were published by The New Yorker magazine. The final nail in the coffin appears to have been the revelation that Moonves tried to persuade one of the new batch of accusers not to go public by offering her a job at CBS. It was this attempt to mislead the board rather than the actual allegations that prompted them to withdraw their support. Moonves' abrupt fall from grace represents arguably the biggest scalp to-date for the #MeToo movement. In his 23 years as head of the network, he transformed it from last place in the ratings to the country's most watched. He was docked exit compensation that might have totalled as much as $180m, and CBS has pledged to pay $20m to organisations supporting the #MeToo movement. The company also dismissed Jeff Fager, executive producer of its flagship news program '60 Minutes', who had also been accused by the New Yorker of sexual misconduct, which he denies. However, Fager also sent a threatening text to a female CBS reporter who was looking into those allegations, warning, "Be careful. There are people who lost their jobs trying to harm me and if you pass on these damaging claims without your own reporting to back them up that will become a serious problem." That prompted his dismissal for violation of company policy. Late last year, CBS also sacked star news anchor Charlie Rose after the Washington Post published harassment claims from more than 30 women over three decades. Moonves was replaced as CEO on an interim basis by former COO Joe Ianniello, who has vowed to clean up the company's internal culture, provide training on workplace issues and offer safe channels for whistleblowers.
Adbrands Weekly Update 2nd Aug 2018: Further scalps are being taken or are at risk across the media industry in connection with past inappropriate behaviour by notable figures. In a feature published by the New Yorker magazine, campaigning journalist Ronan Farrow detailed allegations of sexual harassment by CBS CEO Les Moonves of six women with whom he had professional dealings over the past four decades. Writer and actress Illeana Douglas who had been pitching a series to Moonves, told Farrow, "What happened to me was a sexual assault, and then I was fired for not participating." The article also suggested that there had been a wider culture of systemic harassment at CBS in which senior male executives routinely exploited their position to hit on female colleagues. In a statement, Moonves acknowledged that there had been times in the past when he "may have made women feel uncomfortable by making advances. Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely. 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." The allegations come at a very sensitive time for CBS, which is engaged in an increasingly bitter dispute with its de facto controlling shareholder Shari Redstone, who is trying to broker a reunion with Viacom, from which CBS was de-merged a decade ago. The removal of Moonves would significantly strengthen Redstone's chances. A number of female CBS executives voiced their support for their CEO, but several third parties called for him to be suspended pending completion of the internal investigation. The CBS board met to approve the appointment of two outside law firms to look into the allegations but said they will take no further action against Moonves for the time being.
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