CBS Ousts Two More Station Executives After Harassment Probe

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CBS has ousted the leaders of its O&O stations in Los Angeles and Chicago after concluding a six-month investigation into misconduct claims at the CBS Television Stations group.

Jay Howell is out as general manager of KCBS-TV and KCAL-TV Los Angeles, as is Derek Dalton at WBBM-TV Chicago. The terminations were disclosed in memos Thursday about the conclusion of the investigation sparked by a Los Angeles Times expose on hostile working conditions for women and people of color at a number of CBS O&Os.

In April, former CBS Television Stations president Peter Dunn and David Friend, senior VP of news, were forced out amid allegations that they had made racially charged comments about anchors and reporters and blocked efforts to retain and promote Black journalists, among other accusations.

The departures of Howell and Dalton were confirmed in memos sent Thursday from CBS president-CEO George Cheeks and Wendy McMahon, CBS’ newly appointed president and co-head of CBS News and Stations. (Management of CBS News and CBS Television Stations were combined after Dunn’s ouster.)

“The investigation cited painful revelations about experiences that we cannot tolerate today or in the future,” Cheeks wrote in the memo to employees. “While the investigation largely looked at events in the past, and the issues revealed were more pronounced in certain areas and at specific stations than others, there are clear themes that we need to address moving forward: our diversity, equity and inclusion standards need to be a top priority for leadership in every corner of our Stations business; our workplace culture needs to measurably improve; and, your trust needs to be restored with your CBS leaders.”

McMahon, the Disney veteran who was appointed in April along with Neeraj Khemlani, acknowledged the “range of emotions” that staffers have expressed after a long probe into troubling allegations of racial insensitivity and a culture of bullying.

“George, Neeraj and I are committed to leading with transparency, respect and inclusion…to cultivating a spirit of collaboration and innovation…to doing the right thing for our united organization and teams as we reimagine our brands and businesses during a time of tremendous change,” McMahon wrote.

Cheeks pointed to CBS’ decision to bring in new leadership at the top and in key markets. The awakening spurred by the internal probe will also be reflected in each station’s priorities for news and lifestyle coverage.

“We have refocused our local priorities on content, culture and community connections, with special attention being paid to reflecting and representing our local audiences,” Cheeks wrote.

Howell had been with KCBS/KCAL since June 2019. He’d also run stations for CBS in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Sacramento, Calif. Dalton joined WBBM in 2018 after stints with Hubbard Broadcasting and Tribune Broadcasting.

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