Les Moonves resigns as head of CBS 'effective immediately'

CBS CEO Leslie Moonves hit with six additional claims of sexual harassment and assault

CBS said the network's chief operating officer, Joseph Ianniello, will take over Moonves' duties as president and CEO until its board of directors can find a permanent replacement.

"The CBS Board of Directors is committed to a thorough and independent investigation of the allegations, and that investigation is actively underway", the media company's board said in a statement.

Moonves is a major Hollywood figure, and was both "the public face of the company" and "an integral part of daily life at the CBS broadcast network and major assets such as Showtime and the nascent CBS All Access streaming service", according to Joe Adalian's analysis at Vulture.

The company says it and Mr Moonves would donate $20m ($28m AUD) to groups supporting the #MeToo movement. Any severance to Moonves will depend on the results of CBS' internal investigation into the harassment allegations. The women who were able to fend off his advances were then met with hostility, coldness, and verbal abuse.

The shocking exposé detailed several instances of Moonves' alleged inappropriate behavior and unwanted advances, including forcing the women to preform oral sex on him and exposing himself without their consent, as well as the reported use of physical violence, intimidation, and retaliation.

Moonves told the magazine that three of the encounters were consensual.

Moonves said in a statement, in part, that "The appalling accusations in this article are untrue".

"In my 40 years of work, I have never before heard of such disturbing accusations". "They felt that this is a board that has let a powerful man who makes a lot of money for this company, in the words of one person, 'get away with it'". Accusations by six other women, which appeared in the same magazine in July, had sparked an investigation by CBS.

CBS announced Moonves' departure, which takes effect immediately, early Sunday evening.

Moonves has been at the center of legal troubles with CBS for months, and CNBC reported on Thursday the board was considering giving him a $100 million exit package. "It is systematic, and it is pervasive in our culture", O'Donnell said in a near-verbatim reiteration of her November comments.

The latest allegations were not addressed in CBS' announcement of Moonves' exit. "We will accept nothing less than full transparency of the investigation's findings, a commitment to real change across all levels of CBS management and no reward for Les Moonves".

The New Yorker reported on Sunday (Sep 9) that the women say they were harassed or assaulted between 1980 and the early 2000s by Moonves, who in more than two decades with the network helped lift it from last place to profitable status as America's most-watched.

Moonves had almost $70 million in earnings a year ago, and CBS has held the top spot in network ratings for a decade under his leadership.

Remarkably, with the company under siege and activists and others calling for Moonves' ouster, he continued to shepherd the company's day-to-day activities, memorably conducting an earnings call with Wall Street analysts.

In later incidents, Golden-Gottlieb says Moonves left his office and returned not wearing trousers and that he threw her against a wall.

With Moonves' exit, CBS viewers will wonder what the future holds for Chen, who is a panelist on the daytime show "The Talk" and host of the summer series "Big Brother".

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