CBS Entertainment Chief Talks Moonves, Talent

Beverly Hills, CA. -- CBS considered cancelling its annual summer meeting with TV critics and journalists -- the Television Critics Association meeting here -- given sexual misconduct allegations and current investigations of Les Moonves, chairman/CEO of CBS Corp.

But speaking at TCA on Sunday, Kelly Kahl, president of CBS Entertainment, said a no-show would have been a disservice to hard-working TV show creative talent: actors, writers and executive producers.

“Obviously, this has been a tough week at CBS,” said Kahl. “There are literally thousands of producers, writers, actors, crew -- not to mention all the people at CBS -- preparing for months to launch the fall season.”  

Speaking about CBS Entertainment -- current and future TV shows -- he said: “We are committed to being a collaborative, inclusive, and safe workplace.” In a reference to news around Moonves, he added: "The scope of what I can talk about is limited."



“A number of colleagues came to me this week and said they were saddened by what they read. They said it does not represent their experience at CBS. We are not saying we are perfect. No large company is.” Kahl said he also “struggled” with the news concerning Moonves.

Kahl added that some of its more public executives and on-air talent expressed their feelings, including Terry Press, president of CBS Films, who wrote “eloquently” about the situation, and “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert, who talked “thoughtfully, powerfully.”

TV journalists asked Kahl many questions about similar concerns over the misconduct of some executive producers of current shows. Kahl said any misconduct incidents must be reported to CBS human resources department. But he says that overall, “we believe CBS Entertainment is a welcoming and safe culture.”  

With regard to issues involving show producers past and present -- including Brad Kern, former executive producer, now consultant of “NCIS: New Orleans” -- he added: “I don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all investigation.”

On Sunday at the TCA, CBS offered panel discussions around new fall shows, including “FBI,” “God Friended Me,” “Murphy Brown,” “The Neighborhood,” “Happy Together” and “Magnum P.I.” There was also a panel on a new CBS All Access show: “Tell Me A Story.”

In a recent New Yorker article, six women accused Moonves of sexual misconduct. The incidents occurred in the 1980s through the 2000s.

The CBS earnings phone call with analysts last week featured Moonves talking about financial results -- but not allegations, nor ongoing legal action against its majority owner National Amusements.  

After a CBS investor relations executive said no questions would be answered concerning anything other than CBS financial results, no stock-market analyst asked Moonves anything about the misconduct scandal. 

In early June, CBS was one of the earliest TV networks to close its upfront advertising business for the 2018-2019 TV season -- estimated to be around 4% higher in volume overall, around $2.6 billion for its prime-time programming, according to industry analysts.

Media-buying executives say the network pulled in high single-to-low double-digit percentage price hikes on its cost-per-thousand viewer prices (CPMs). Moonves says its two OTT platforms, CBS All Access and Showtime, are on a faster pace for growth -- set to hit 8 million subscribers next year, and 16 million by 2020.

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