THE CONTINUING SAGA AT CBS

When I last wrote about the CBS drama, it was assumed that, with Moonvres gone, there would be some board member changes and that CBS would then settle in to a more promising future.  Some board changes, however, have proved to be problematic.

As a result of the lawsuit settlement in early September, the agreed-upon changes have gone off without a hitch: 7 members left the board on Sept 9 and were replaced by 7 new members.   The lawsuit agreement also assured that Bruce Gordon’s seat on the board would be continued through 2020.  However, Gordon as well as one other  board member, William Cohen, have recently resigned in protest over current circumstances   In 2007, I wrote about the board of Hewlett Packard which presented quite a spectacle during 2006-2007, precipitating thousands of words in the WSJ that described the ongoing debacle of Chairman Patricia Dunn and her chief adversary, Tom Perkins  – a pitched controversy that ultimately involved most of the board members, with some members charged with leaking confidential information.  Thus far, the CBS board interplay pales in comparison to HP, but there is still a great deal of controversy swirling around the recent resignation of the two board members, lead independent director Bruce Gordon and his colleague, William Cohen.  Both Gordon and Cohen were supporters of Moonvres, and Gordon was among those suing Shari Redstone’s National Amusements in an attempt to strip it of voting control.  Gordon has resigned in protest over the decision to name an interim chairman – believing that this action sidelined his role as well as his efforts in attracting and hiring a strong CEO.  Cohen’s complaint is that the press has been portraying him as a staunch supporter of Moonvres.  Both Gordon and Cohen were, indeed, supporters of Moonvres and his policies, and were in opposition to a merger of CBS and Viacom with National Amusements.  Thus, their departures are seen as more likely to encourage the new board to favor the merger.  Veteran media executive, Richard Parsons, was named interim chair and is likely to be made permeant chair later this year.  All in all, even given the recent controversy, it seems that the CBS board might finally be moving toward stability.

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