CBS, which vowed earlier Friday to investigate the claims before the article had even been published, also released a statement: "CBS is very mindful of all workplace issues and takes each report of misconduct very seriously". It says the independent directors are "investigating claims that violate the company's clear policies in that regard".
The allegations in the article by Ronan Farrow involve incidents that go back, in part, more than 20 years, the Hollywood Reporter said, citing sources with knowledge of the matter who it didn't identify.
Viacom shares ended up 4.5 percent at $29.35 on Friday, while CBS shares closed about 6 percent lower at $54.01, as investors speculated that the chances of a merger between the two companies had increased.
Then Moonves headed to CBS in 1995, when the network was third in the ratings among big broadcasters and a frequent punchline about its older viewership. Moonves wants a reunion to go forward under very specific conditions, including one in which he and his deputies would retain executive control of the combined unit.
"I just thought, 'Oh, my God". She recalled that Moonves later berated her during rehearsals for the project, and at one point called her at home and told her that she would "never work at this network again", according to the article. In November, CBS fired veteran news host Charlie Rose over allegations he had groped women, walked naked in front of them and made lewd phone calls.
In one case, in 1997, the actress and writer Illeana Douglas told Farrow that Moonves assaulted her during a business meeting.
CBS resisted a deal, and later took Shari Redstone to court to dilute her controlling stake in the company.
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It was my mistake, and I'm sorry. "We're also making changes to account recovery to reduce the risk of scraping as well". The stock plunged 19 percent in early trading Thursday, eradicating well in excess of $100 billion in market value.
He transformed CBS over the past two decades, building it into a ratings powerhouse - it has been the No. 1 network in total viewers for 10 consecutive years. In the same year he was inducted into the television hall of fame. The company's second-in-command is chief operating officer Joseph Ianniello, who does not have a track record as the head of a large media company.
And the board's statement suggested it might not be a coincidence.
The story comes at a time when CBS is in a legal battle with Viacom.
The board is hiring an independent company to conduct the investigation.
"A spokeswoman for National Amusements Inc said, "(Shari) Redstone hopes that the investigation of these allegations is thorough, open and transparent".