CNET topper resigns after options probe

Ashe, Mohn to replace Bonnie

Silicon Valley’s accounting scandal over backdated options took down its first victim in the media biz Wednesday, as CNET Networks chief exec Shelby Bonnie resigned following his company’s internal investigation.

CNET, which operates Web sites including TV.com, MP3.com, News.com and reviews site CNET.com, is one of more than 100 tech-related companies addressing allegations that they improperly backdated stock options to issue them at a price that would most benefit executives.

A special committee of CNET’s board found that some options were improperly backdated and numerous execs, including Bonnie, “bear varying degrees of responsibility,” though it didn’t find that he engaged in “intentional wrongdoing.”

Apple recently concluded a similar investigation into its options practices which cleared CEO Steve Jobs, but led to the resignation of its former chief financial officer from the board. Cablevision has already seen several execs step down as the result of its options scandal, while vidgame publishers Activision and THQ are cooperating in SEC investigations.

Reports have alleged that Pixar may have engaged in the practice as well. Animation studio’s new corporate parent Disney hasn’t commented on whether it’s investigating.

At CNET, Bonnie is being replaced by exec veep Neil Ashe as CEO and Jarl Mohn, former CEO of Liberty Digital and E! and a member of the Netco’s board, as chairman.

Software security company McAfee also lost its CEO and chairman as a result of the options backdating scandal on Wednesday.

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