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Tara Lachapelle

Les Moonves Could Be Making a Big Mistake

The war between the CBS chief and Shari Redstone threatens both businesses at a time when they need a plan more than ever.

This is the kind of drama CBS should avoid.

This is the kind of drama CBS should avoid.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

As long as CBS Corp. keeps fighting itself, it won’t stand a chance in a media world dominated by Netflix Inc., Walt Disney Co. and other powerful companies increasingly staking a claim on viewers and ad dollars. That’s even worse news for Viacom Inc., its sister company.

In this week’s episode of Disgraceful Corporate Governance, the drama between CBS Chief Les Moonves and Shari Redstone, the company’s controlling shareholder, turned ugly—even by their standards. CBS sued National Amusements, the vehicle through which Redstone and her ailing father Sumner Redstone have long owned CBS and Viacom, alleging that it has breached its fiduciary duty to shareholders. With the elder Redstone no longer able to speak, and communicating through an iPad programmed with some, uh, choice sound bites, his daughter has stepped into his shoes. She’s now sparring with Moonves over a plan to reunite CBS and Viacom, less than two years after giving the boot to Viacom’s previous CEO.