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CBS Ad Sales Chief Jo Ann Ross Says She Backs Leslie Moonves (EXCLUSIVE)

Leslie Moonves
Chelsea Lauren/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

One of the TV industry’s most prominent female business-side executives said Friday evening she would “fully support” CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves after a report in the New Yorker detailed allegations of sexual harassment leveled at him by six different women.

“Leslie has always been an advocate and mentor to me, showing me the deepest respect at all times,” Jo Ann Ross, CBS’ president and chief advertising revenue officer, told Variety. “He has never been threatening or abusive. In fact, Leslie has been my ‘go to’ through any challenges. There has never been an issue that I have broached with him where I felt at risk of being treated differently than a male executive would be treated.  Leslie has made me a better executive, and I have learned how to lead from him.”

Ross is the first female executive to oversee a broadcast-network ad-sales operation, and serves as the company’s representative to hundreds of sponsors. She took the role in 2002, and is now the longest-tenured ad-sales chief in broadcast TV. She has worked at CBS for more than 25 years. She reports to the CBS CEO.

Independent directors at CBS Corp. said Friday they would investigate allegations raised in the article, reported by Ronan Farrow, which alleges Moonves made sexual advances against several women between the 1980s and the early 2000s. The allegations surface as CBS is locked in a battle with its controlling shareholder, National Amusements Inc. over the future governance of the company. The accusations have rattled investors, who have come to see Moonves’ management as key to CBS’ success.