CBS paid ex-chief Leslie Moonves $12.5 million last year

Leslie Moonves, CBS' former president and chief executive, forfeited $34.5 million in stock awards when he left CBS amid a sexual misconduct scandal in 2018. Still, he received $12.5 million in compensation last year — down from $69 million in 2017.
(Chris Pizzello / Invision/Associated Press)

Former CBS Corp. Chief Executive Leslie Moonves forfeited $34.5 million in compensation last year after being forced from his longtime perch amid a sexual misconduct scandal.

Nonetheless, the longtime television executive received $12.5 million in compensation, including salary and stock, last year — down from $69 million in 2017, according to a regulatory filing Friday. The filing said that if he hadn’t forfeited a chunk of his 2018 compensation “pursuant to his separation agreement with the company,” Moonves would have received $47.1 million for his eight months on the job last year.

He gave up $34.5 million in stock awards, CBS said in the filing.


Moonves, 69, left CBS in September. He had served as the company’s CEO for 12 years and was perennially one of the most handsomely compensated executives in corporate America.

Now he is fighting the company’s decision to strip him of his $120-million severance package after he was forced out last year. In January, he exercised his right to demand binding arbitration over the matter.

Moonves resigned under pressure six weeks after the New Yorker magazine published an article that brought to light the accounts of six women who said Moonves forcibly kissed them in work settings in the 1980s and ’90s. CBS engaged two outside law firms to determine whether Moonves violated the terms of his employment.

In December, the company’s board of directors announced that it would not pay Moonves any of the severance package. The board determined that it was justified in firing him for cause because, it said, he committed “willful and material misfeasance” and failed to cooperate fully with the company’s investigation.

The battle over Moonves’ pay was seen as a test of the power of the #MeToo movement against sexual mistreatment in corporate America, which came to prominence after the downfall of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

CBS is conducting a search for a new chief executive. One of the candidates vying for the job, acting Chief Executive Joseph Ianniello, received $27.4 million in compensation last year, up from $22.1 million in 2017. Until last fall, Ianniello was the company’s chief operating officer.

Many on Wall Street expect CBS to eventually merge with cable programming giant Viacom Inc. Both companies are controlled by billionaire Sumner Redstone’s family.